It looks like pop star Kelly Clarkson will never take possession of a turquoise ring once owned by novelist Jane Austen, despite having won it fair and square at Sotheby’s London auction last summer. A deep-pocketed patron of Jane Austen’s House Museum donated $155,000 toward a fund that will likely keep the ring in Britain.
Earlier this month, British officials declared the famous novelist’s turquoise cabochon ring a national treasure and temporarily blocked the export of the ring in the hope that someone locally would come forward to match the $235,000 price that Clarkson paid at auction. The Texas-born singer agreed to sell the ring if an equal offer was made.
Through their website and Facebook page, curators of Jane Austen’s House Museum made a plea for donations. The “Give Jane Austen a Ring” campaign quickly received an anonymous donation of £100,000 (about $155,000) that will take the museum two-thirds of the way toward meeting its financial goal. Representatives of the museum are confident that they will be able to buy the ring from Clarkson and put it on display in Chawton.
A post on the museum's website reads, "Total after the weekend stands at £103,200 after an ASTONISHING private donation of £100,000. Only another £49,000 to go!"
The museum, which occupies the 17th century house where Austen spent the last eight years of her life, already owns two of the writer’s jewelry items. These include a turquoise bracelet and a topaz cross.
Austen, the author of Pride and Prejudice and five other iconic novels of the early 19th century, died in 1817 at age 41 and left the turquoise ring to her sister; it remained in the family until it was sold at auction last year.
Clarkson, a longtime fan of Austen’s work, won the ring anonymously in July 2012 when she outlasted seven other bidders, including Jane Austen’s House Museum. She ended up paying five times Sotheby's high estimate for the rare ring.
Even though the writer passed away nearly 200 years ago, Austen still maintains near-rock-star status in the U.K. Her image is set to appear on the 10-pound banknote starting in 2017.
Meanwhile, Clarkson is reportedly wearing a replica of the Austen ring while the international drama plays out and she anxiously awaits the fate of her much-coveted British treasure.