Christie's online auction offers hundreds of pieces of memorabilia from 'The Birth of Hip-Hop'

Sunday, August 7, 2022 1:30AM
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Hundreds of items from Christie's latest online auction, the Birth of Hip-Hop, are now on display at the company's Rockefeller Center galleries. Sandy Kenyon has the details.

NEW YORK -- Christie's sells some of the most expensive art in the world, but you don't have to be a billionaire or even a millionaire to afford what's on display at the company's Rockefeller Center galleries right now.

Vinyl records, posters, old Polaroid pictures, and used electronic equipment are all grouped under one banner: The Birth of Hip-Hop.

The items were all consigned by a brother and sister who can claim to have been present at the creation of the genre.

The memorabilia comes from a rap pioneer originally from Jamaica by the name of D.J. Kool Herc, who laid the foundation of hip-hop using beats as bricks in the South Bronx.

The story began there half a century ago when the beats were as mean as the streets, and he got the idea to extend those beats, and a new genre was born.

It all started when his sister, Cindy Campbell, asked him to throw her a back-to-school party in the rec room of their apartment building.

"That was the beginning of something that has grown and evolved to where it is today," Campbell said.

D.J. Kool Herc came up with a way to cue up two identical records to the section that was pure rhythm and then play those sections back to back.

"He had the two turntables, and the two vinyls on there, and he would cue it in and out to extend it," Campbell said.

From these humble beginnings a billion dollar industry was born.

"All of that just evolved into a culture," Campbell said.

Christie's is celebrating that culture where more than 200 items are being sold online between now and August 18th.

A free exhibit of all the lots is open until August 12th.

The head of the photography department, Darius Himes, observed that, "the sale is about recognizing the birth of hip-hop, the contributions of Herc to not only New York City, but American culture and global culture."

His colleague Peter Klarnet added that, "you're seeing some of the earliest pieces of history. You're seeing it in embryonic form."

It is the stuff their dreams were made of: stuff so simple it might have been lost or discarded had not Cindy decided to save it to show future generations, "what we did at the time to make something out of nothing."

Now, the passage of time has made the mundane, truly magical.