The plastic crown worn by The Notorious B.I.G. in his final photoshoot before his death—which produced the iconic “King of New York” image used as a 1997 cover photo for Rap Pages magazine—sold for $594,750 at the Sotheby‘s hip-hop auction on Tuesday night, according to the New York Post.
As photographer Barron Claiborne, who initially purchased the crown prop and shot the famous photo (as seen above), explained, “This crown is a novelty item; I bought it at a place on Broadway called Gordon’s. Without Biggie, the crown would not be worth [six figures]. I only paid six bucks for it.”
“I’m not sure that I even got paid for it,” he said. “I was mostly shooting celebrities and reportage. I did this because I liked taking pictures of Biggie. The time before, I photographed him in a white suit — instead of the tracksuit that most rappers were wearing back in 1997.”
Claiborne also noted that the photoshoot nearly didn’t happen, as he initially received pushback from Biggie’s label head, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs: “He said it would make Biggie look like Burger King. … But Biggie didn’t listen. He wore it anyway. And nobody’s ever told me that they look at the photo and think the crown is plastic.”
Other lots included in the first-ever Sotheby’s hip-hop auction included a set of letters written by Tupac Shakur while he was in high school. The letters wound up selling for more than $75,000.
You can browse all the sale results from the auction here.