Sotheby's Auctions Hip-Hop Legends Iconic Pieces - Including 11-year-old Tupac's Haiku Booklet

By Nicole Choma | March 24, 2022

Sotheby’s collection, The Art and Influence of Hip Hop, has opened for online bidding today through March 30, 2022. In addition to the bidding, the complete collection will be on exhibition at Sotheby’s York Avenue Galleries on March 26-March 29, 2022.

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Established in the UK in 1744, Sotheby’s is one of the world’s largest fine art brokers and has 80 locations in 40 countries. The Art and Influence of Hip Hop is the second hip-hop collection presented by Sotheby’s. Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s Global Head of Science and Popular Culture, said in a press statement, “Following the success of Sotheby’s historic first hip hop auction in 2020, our second sale in this series expands on the generational, geographic, and artistic scope of hip hop’s creative narrative. From the 70s to the present, from the East Coast to the West, The Art and Influence of Hip Hop seeks to represent and honor the voices and visionaries who continue to move the crowd and redefine culture.” The Art and Influence of Hip Hop will include art, fashion pieces, photography, NFTs, and more.

See more: ‘Soul Culture’: An Experience Centering On Joy and Reflection By Artist Renee Cox

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One of the most anticipated works is Tupac’s unpublished booklet of haikus, which he wrote and illustrated at 11 years old. The booklet was gifted to Jamal Joseph, Tupac’s godfather and Black Panther activist, 40 years ago while he and fellow Panthers were incarcerated at Leavenworth Prison. The collection of haikus is dedicated to Joseph and other Black Panther members: Chui Ferguson-El, Sekou Odinga, and Bilal Sunni Ali. Still in Joseph’s care after 40 years, the booklet highlights one of Tupac’s earliest explorations in lyrical writing and creative expression. Furthermore, the collection of haikus depicts insight into Tupac’s childhood and influences and contains messages of race, masculinity, family, Black liberation, and incarceration, along with original drawings from Tupac. He signs off the booklet with “Tupac Shakur. Future Freedom Fighter.” Along with this booklet, Joseph also offered Sotheby’s a collection of love letters from Tupac that he wrote at the age of 17 to a sweetheart.

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Another notable work within this collection is Chuck D’s, founder of Public Enemy, letter he wrote in 2020 to the Grammys denouncing Grammy president/CEO Deborah Dugan. The lot will include a physical copy of the letter and a digitized version, both minted into NFTs. Alongside these pieces, the auction features Chuck D’s portrait of Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello minted as an NFT.

Some of the additional features within the auction include:

  • Emanon’s The Baby Beat Box, inscribed by Keith Haring (creator of the cover art) to the album producer Afrika Islam (estimate $7/9,000)
  • Original concept art for Beastie Boys License to Ill album cover (estimate $5/8,000)

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  • Historic drum machines and studio gear used by Afrika Islam and Ice-T (estimate $4/6,000)
  • Jazzy Jay’s early hip hop event flyer collection (estimate $20/30,000) and a hand-selected crate of vinyl (estimate $6/9,000)
  • One of the earliest works by Futura to come to auction (estimate $30/50,000)
  • Chuck D’s original, tour-worn silver Raiders Starter jacket, signed by him (estimate $7/10,000)

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  • A sable fur coat and hat custom-made for the late Biz Markie (estimate $15/20,000)
  • Original Artwork by Futura, Keith Haring, Lady Pink, Shock G, DELTA2, DOZE, ZEPHYR, FREEDOM, Roberto Lugo, Carlos Rolón, Danny Cortes, and Dan Lish, among others
  • Outrageous hand-made giant gilded 'Gangsta' Frame built by Shawn Brauch of Pen & Pixel, complete with integral multi-color LED lighting and sound system, and features a print of the original artwork by Pen & Pixel for Snoop Dogg’s album Da Game is to Be Sold Not to Be Told (estimate $5/7,000)


Click here to view the auction and to learn more about Sotheby’s.

Photography by: Courtesy of Sotheby's