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Notorious B.I.G. crown and Tupac love letters sold at auction

The Notorious B. I. G. and his crown Image copyright Sotheby's

The crown worn by the Notorious B.I.G. in his last recorded photoshoot has sold for almost half a million pounds.

The plastic crown worn by the rapper in the iconic "King of New York" picture - three days before his death - was expected to go for about $300,000 (£225,900).

It fetched $594,670 (£461,243) in Sotheby's first-ever auction dedicated to hip-hop items.

The auction also included love letters written by Tupac Shakur at 16.

Described as "incredibly sweet and at times steamy" by the auction house, a total of 22 handwritten letters sold for $75,600 (£58,629).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Biggie wore this crown three days before his death

The "King of New York" portrait may be famous now, but not everybody thought it would hit the heights it did.

Diddy, who was Biggie's label boss and was with him at the shoot, was reportedly worried it looked more Burger King than hip-hop king.

The crown was signed by photographer Barron Claiborne and Biggie - who was shot dead on 9 March 1997.

Sotheby's senior specialist Cassandra Hatton told Reuters the crown "is one of the most recognisable symbols of hip-hop".

"Everybody around the world recognizes this crown. You see it on T-shirts. You see it on coffee cups and prayer candles. It's huge."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The letters also show the rapper's close friendship with fellow student Jada Pinkett - better known now as Jada Pinkett-Smith

The Tupac letters were sent to Kathy Loy during a two-month relationship at the Baltimore School for the Arts in the 1980s.

In them, Tupac declares his love for Kathy, and writes about coming to terms with her calling off their relationship, including a letter of regret sent a year later.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The letters feature hand-drawn hearts

There were sweet sign-offs such as: "Love, Tupac", "4 Eternity, Tupac", "With Passion, Tupac", "Forever Yours, Tupac" and "With All My Heart, Tupac".

The letters also reveal the rapper was often insecure and feared rejection.

"I just want to be less sensitive and less of a pest...what I am feeling has to do with my insecurities, and I have to handle that on my own."

Tupac was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in September 1996, aged 25.

A portion of the money from the auction will be donated to charities for community projects in New York.

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