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UPDATED: Tupac Shakur’s Ring Brings $1M at Sotheby’s Auction

The rapper designed it himself and wore it in his last public appearance.

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PHOTOGRAPHY: Ring photos Courtesy of Sotheby’s
PHOTOGRAPHY: Ring photos Courtesy of Sotheby’s

AT SOTHEBY’S THIRD SALE dedicated to hip hop’s impact on art and culture, the main attraction was Tupac Shakur’s gold, ruby and diamond “crown sovereign” ring — and it sold for a little over $1 million.

It was predicted to bring $200,000 to $300,000. The piece was “the most valuable Hip Hop artifact ever sold at auction, and the only Hip Hop artifact to surpass $1 million,” according to Sotheby’s.

The ring was sold “following a determined battle between bidders,” the auction house explained.

The artist, who designed the ring himself, could be seen wearing it at his last public appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1996 before he was murdered in Las Vegas a week later at age 25.

Shakur, who went by the stage name 2Pac and, later in his career, Makaveli, had just been released from jail when he commissioned the piece in early 1996. As Sotheby’s reports, “To commemorate this momentous arrival into a new stage of life and illustrious career, Tupac got new bling.” Or in other words, the ring represented a coronation and rebirth for the rapper. According to Yaasmyn Fula, Shakur’s godmother, “Shakur commissioned the ring as a ‘new piece of jewelry to commemorate his achievements.'” After launching his media group, Euphanasia, with Fula at the head, the rapper designed the ring while Fula worked with him and New York jewelers to ensure it met his specifications. Shakur included an inscription engraved on the outer, palm-facing side of the band, “Pac & Dada 1996,” referring to his engagement to Kidada Jones.

The ring was inspired by Shakur’s reading of Niccolo Machiavelli’s political manifesto, The Prince, while incarcerated. The ring was a reference to the crowns of medieval kings as an “act of self-coronation,” according to Fula, who consigned the ring for the sale. As Sotheby’s reports, “Sitting atop a diamond-encrusted gold band is the ‘crown’ itself: a gold circlet studded with the three largest jewels in the piece — a central cabochon ruby flanked by two pavé-cut diamonds. Shakur’s selection of the ruby as the principal stone in his crown was a continuation of the royal narrative, as rubies have long been symbolically tied to the imagery of monarchy and wealth in our cultural imagination.”

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He wore the ring next to a pinky ring and with bracelets to the MTV Video Music Awards.

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