A custom ring designed by the late rapper Tupac Shakur was sold for a hefty amount at a recent auction.
CNN reports that the gold, ruby, and diamond crown ring sold for $1.2 million at the hip-hop-themed Sotheby’s Auction on July 25. The sale makes the ring the most valuable hip-hop artifact ever sold at auction. Worn by the “California Love” rapper at his last public appearance at the 1996 Video Music Awards, the ring—described as a diamond-encrusted gold band topped with a gold circlet studded with a cabochon ruby and two pavé-cut diamonds—went for more than three times the auction house’s estimate.
It was inspired by the crowns of Europe’s medieval kings and was designed months after Shakur signed with the infamous Death Row Records following an eight-month prison sentence. Shakur’s godmother, Yaasmyn Fula, says she and her godson worked with jewelers in New York on the piece as “an act of self-coronation,” as he’d survived a “tumultuous” period of his life. Inscribed in the ring is “Pac & Dada 1996,” referencing his engagement to Kidada Jones, the actress, model, and daughter to super-producer Quincy Jones.
Other elite hip-hop members, including De La Soul’s Kelvin Mercer, attended the auction. Mercer said the piece contained more than meets the eye. “What’s so special about this ring is that it shows him in a moment where he was not necessarily on the front lines as an artist, but just a man expressing his love for another person, and that’s beautiful to see,” Mercer said.
Other pieces that were up for auction included handwritten notes for Wu-Tang Clan’s album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by RZA, original artwork by Bill Sienkiewicz for EPMD’s first Def Jam release, Business as Usual, and a wooden box painted by American artist KAWS which sold for an estimated $76,200.
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