The original Beat Bop album sold in the Sotheby’s auction for more than $100,000, but the November 20 re-releases on eBay sell for $20.97.
On September 15, Sotheby’s, the centuries-old international auction house, auctioned more than $2 million worth of hip-hop memorabilia.
“I bid, but when it got past $500, I put down my paddle,” said Les Delos Santos, a North County school teacher and boombox salesman.
“Lemme guess,” I inquired, “was it Biggie’s crown or the boombox piece?”
Delos Santos responded by tagging me on an online photo of The Wall of Boom, an art installation created by DJ ROSS ONE, of 32 old-school boomboxes mounted within a custom shelf. The gavel dropped at $113,400.
Delos Santos collects old boomboxes for nostalgia. “I was the guy that used to ride around on my bike with the boombox taped to my handlebars.”
Ron Morales of Real Life Media in Mira Mesa showed interest in the boomboxes that sold for “40 bands” ($40,000) above its low-estimate appraisal. In the collection were two Clairtone Super Jumbos, the same model depicted in the Do The Right Thing joint, and the two JVC M90s, the same model photographed for LL Cool J’s Radio album cover.
“When someone buys a used or new boombox, they are buying a moment in a generation that changed the scope of an urban lifestyle,” Morales said.
Morales founded Real Legit Magazine, a celebrity, hip-hop, and fashion print publication, in 2013 . He utilized boomboxes to frame runway models in his photographs. He described a dream concept utilizing pieces from the New York-based auction that raised over $2 million. “I would stack the boomboxes as my backdrop and have my subject in the forefront wear the Def Jam prototype jacket that sold for $10,080 paired with Drake’s Air Jordans that sold for $32,760.”
Boombox collector Ron Morales poses with boxer Floyd Mayweather.
DJ Mike, out of City Heights, was into the 1983 album Beat-Bop, a 12-inch record by Rammellzee vs. K-Rob, which fetched $126,000, the highest amount paid for a hip-hop record in an auction. “That one skyrocketed from the low estimate price of $2500 to a hundred bands with a quickness. I’ll wait for the re-release on November 20, they’re pre-slanging them on eBay now for $20.97, and they have the same cover art that Jean-Michel Basquiat did up.”
Mike recently parlayed his personal hip-hop records and boomboxes for a down payment on a house. “Vinyl and boomboxes are hot now, and I had to lock it in at these hella-low interest rates, and I did it before [rapper] TI jumped onto Instagram saying something like ‘Please y’all, go buy some property.’”
The auction had 120 lots and 91 percent of the items sold, including teenage-Tupac’s handwritten love letters ($75K), a ring worn by Fab 5 Freddy of Yo! MTV Raps ($35K), and Salt-N-Pepa’s leather jackets worn in the 1987 “Push It” music video.
“I think they wore those on stage at the 2018 Taco Fest concert at our Waterfront Park,” Mike opined.
The biggest auction was for the crown worn by the late Notorious B.I.G. for a Rap Pages magazine photoshoot, which copped $594,750.
“The face is powerful in that photoshoot, and you have to have the right shape props, whether it be a hat, beanie, or a crown, in this case, to frame the face,” Morales explained. “The look on Biggie’s face looks like he’s worried, as opposed to a strong king figure.”
(Three days after the March 1997 magazine photoshoot, the “Hypnotize” rapper was shot and killed in Los Angeles.)
Three print variations of the iconic Biggie photo taken by Barron Claiborne were included in the crown’s auction, during which five art collectors battled it out for seven minutes.
The hip-hop auction had 400 registered bidders from 19 countries worldwide; more than 25 percent were newbies to Sotheby’s.