A ring once owned by 19th century novelist Jane Austen was auctioned last year
American singer Kelly Clarkson bought the ring, which had sale price of £152,450
The UK government put an export ban on the item due to its historical link to Britain
The Jane Austen House Museum has successfully raised funds to buy back the ring
A ring once owned by the 19th century novelist Jane Austen is to remain in Britain after a museum successfully raised funds to buy it from American singer Kelly Clarkson.
The gold and turquoise ring is one of just three pieces of jewelry in existence known to have belonged to Austen, the author of novels including “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma.”
Jane Austen’s House Museum, in Chawton, southern England, said it had been unable to meet the sale price of £152,450 ($231,227) when the ring was auctioned by Sotheby’s last year. Clarkson, a “long time Austen devotee” bought the item instead, it said. The sale price was more than five times the estimate Sotheby’s had placed on the ring.
In August, UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey placed a temporary export bar on the ring “on the grounds that it is so closely connected with [Britain’s] history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune.”
The Jane Austen’s House Museum launched an appeal to buy the ring. It said its fundraising “was given a great boost with an anonymous donor coming forward immediately with a pledge of £100,000.”
The museum has now announced that its offer to buy the ring has been accepted and that the item will be put on display in the new year.
“The museum has been stunned by the generosity and light-footedness of all those who have supported our campaign to meet the costs of acquiring Jane Austen’s ring for our permanent collection,” curator Mary Guyatt said.
Clarkson also welcomed the news, saying in a statement: “The ring is a beautiful national treasure and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it at Jane Austen’s House Museum.”
The other two items of jewelry known to have belonged to Austen – a topaz cross and a turquoise and ivory bracelet – are already on display at the museum, in the building where the author spent the last eight years of her life.