An iconic photo of the legendary Notorious B.I.G. is going up for auction in celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary.
This photo, taken by Barron Claiborne in 1997, has become synonymous with Biggie, featuring him wearing a crown that represents his reign as The King of New York. It was captured just days before his untimely death.
The auction will commence on July 12th, with the starting bid set at 50 Ethereum, equivalent to around $94,673.
GM 👑 count down to Auction for ‘There Can Only Be One’ starting at 2pm est today.— Barron Claiborne (@TheKONYNFT) July 12, 2023
Before digital you had to wait 24 hrs to see the results. This was the first frame I saw and I knew this was the money shot! I have kept this cut out from the contact sheet for 26 years!… pic.twitter.com/2UDcloL9gf
The winning bidder will receive a cutout of the contact sheet, measuring six by seven centimeters, which has been stored for 26 years.
The item is labeled and signed, and the auction also includes the NFT counterpart as well as a personal conversation with Claiborne discussing the photograph’s significance, either in person or via video call.
Claiborne expresses his deep connection with Biggie in a video on the auction page, emphasizing their photographic bond.
He holds great respect for the rapper and takes pride in capturing this moment that showcases Biggie with nobility and dignity, the way he should be remembered.
In the Clinton Hill neighborhood, where B.I.G. grew up, there are various references to this portrait. The image is featured on murals, window art, and posters visible from storefronts along the streets.
According to Vikki Tobak, author of the photography book “Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop,” this photo has become the Mona Lisa of hip-hop, establishing itself as an iconic representation of Biggie.
It not only surprises people but also resonates with those who knew him personally.
The crown from the original photoshoot session was previously auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2020, fetching a price of $594,750. Claiborne had held onto it for several years leading up to the auction.
Claiborne shares intriguing details about the photograph, revealing that it was the very first frame he encountered when developing the photos.
Additionally, the label stating 1995 was a mistake by the company Corbis, which had confused it with another shoot Claiborne had done with Biggie in that year. The photo from that session, called Universal Biggie, portrays the rapper wearing a white suit and wielding a cane against a black backdrop with stars.
The auction will run for 30 days, with a 15-minute extension added if a bid is placed within the final 15 minutes to discourage sniping. As Claiborne emphasizes, similar to Biggie himself, this contact sheet cutout is truly one-of-a-kind.