Kanye West’s debut 2004 album The College Dropout has one of the most recognizable and unique covers in hip-hop history. While the photo of Kanye wearing a bear costume, sitting solemnly on school bleachers, is a classic image, it has quite a bit of history too.
You may have never heard the name Eric Arginsky in your life, but he possesses the famed College Dropout Bear costume, and has had possession of it for years. He is open to selling the costume for around $1 million, and would prefer that the sale be to a collector or somebody that will take great care of it.
Arginsky disclosed all of this in an interview this morning (Nov. 16) with Andrew Barber of the Fake Shore Drive podcast, a show based on discussing Chicago hip-hop.
Eric grew up in the Northeast, and was raised by a family who manufactured toys, most notably pogo sticks. As he grew up in the hip-hop dominant era of the 1990s, Eric was passionate about meshing his manufacturing background with hip-hop culture.
He eventually connected with representatives that managed artists like DMX and JAY-Z, and soon began working in positions with streetwear lines like Phat Farm, founded by Russell Simmons, and Rocawear, the associated clothing line for Roc-A-Fella Records owned by Dame Dash and JAY-Z.
This led to him being commissioned to create promotional teddy bear stuffed animals for Kanye West, who was signed by Roc-A-Fella, and his College Dropout album.
The bear costume used in the album’s cover was owned by the high school that Def Jam rented out for Kanye’s photoshoot, and the school declined the label’s offer to buy the suit. So, an entirely new bear suit was made for Kanye to wear to promote the album at events like TRL and The Grammy’s.
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So, while Arginsky he did not play a role in creating the original College Dropout bear suit, he was sent the new suit to help create renderings of the teddy bear collectibles. However, he was never able to reach a deal with Kanye for the production of the bears and the partnership fell through.
But, as Eric just discovered this year, he had kept the bear costume created for Kanye in his mother’s closet at her house. So, he now has big plans for the suit, including a potential sale for a great deal of cash.
Check out what Eric Arginsky had to say about the bear costume below.