Kelly Clarkson is a huge fan of Jane Austen. The singer and her sister once traveled through Derbyshire just to sight-see the locations used for the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice.
Last July, during Sotheby’s English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations auction, the singer-songwriter fell in love with a turquoise ring from Jane Austen’s estate up for bid. Kelly’s bid of £152,450 ($244,000) was the highest and she became the new owner of the ring.
According to The History Blog this ring is the first piece of jewelry from Jane Austen’s estate to come up for auction in a generation.
Kelly told London’s Daily Star Newspaper she got up at 4 a.m. just to start bidding on the ring, and after she won the auction she applied for an export license for the ring. By the way, this kind of export license application is standard, and would need to be given to anyone who is wanting to leave the UK with something considered an “object of cultural interest.” The committee decided, in Kelly’s case, that the ring should not leave the country. A temporary export ban was placed on the ring, and Kelly was barred from leaving England with the ring on her finger.
However, in order for the ring to continue to remain in England, someone in England must buy back the ring from Kelly. That’s £152,450 that the The Jane Austen House Museum has to come up with. Earlier this week an anonymous donor gifted the museum £100,000 towards their “Give Jane Austen a Ring!” campaign. The museum has until December 30th to come up with the rest, or, according the the UK’s Daily Mail, “the Government will not be able to refuse an export license.”
Kelly has said she will sell the ring, if someone buys it.
Meanwhile the museum manager, Louise West, is caught in the duality of frantically trying to fundraise, and also really enjoying all of the attention Jane Austen is getting right now. West says, “We were very excited that someone like Kelly Clarkson was a fan of Jane Austen. It’s not what you’d expect from a young, cool U.S. pop singer. It says a lot about Austen’s popularity and who she’s popular with. It’s not just middle-aged women.” The LA Times is reporting that West has also invited Kelly to come visit the museum as often as she wants.
Kelly has yet to make any public comments about the ring, other than to occasionally wear a replica of it, like she did during her performance at the Grammys. I can imagine a super fan like Kelly is horrified to find herself intertwined in the headlines with her idol over this story. All she wanted to do was buy a ring and own a piece of history. She did it the right way, through an auction house, and the clamors to simply “give it back” are ridiculous. She didn’t take the ring. She bought it.
My prediction is that Kelly will let the museum continue its fundraiser, and then once they have reached the required amount she will tell them to keep the money and donate the ring.
Mags, who writes the Austen Blog, wants Kelly to get on the task now. She says, “Kelly, do the right thing: donate the ring to the Jane Austen Memorial Trust. Do it now, or later, but do it. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the Janeite thing to do.”
What would you do if you were Kelly? Would you donate the ring to the museum or would you keep it?
(psst! If you really love the ring you can grab a great looking replica on Etsy for $220!)
Image Credit: PR Photo, The History Blog
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