The piece of jewelry earned the title "most valuable Hip Hop artifact ever sold at auction"
Nearly 30 years after his 1996 death, rapper Tupac Shakur is still setting records.
On Monday, Sotheby's New York said a piece of jewelry once owned by the "California Love" rapper sold for over $1 million. The gold, ruby and diamond crown ring became “the most valuable Hip Hop artifact ever sold at auction," according to the auction house.
The ring sold for an unprecedented $1,016,000 after a bidding war more than tripled the $300,000 estimate.
“This one-of-a-kind, custom ring was meticulously designed by Pac and is among the final products of his boundless creative energy — a unique artifact from a period of time that is a testament to his enduring influence on Hip Hop,” Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s Global Head of Science and Popular Culture, said.
Tupac designed and commissioned the ring in 1996 and he wore it during his final public appearance at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. “Pac & Dada, 1996” is engraved on the band, a nod to his relationship with former beau Kidada Jones, the daughter of music producer Quincy Jones and the late actress Peggy Lipton.
Sotheby's added that Tupac’s custom design was inspired by his affinity for Niccolo Machiavelli’s political manifesto The Prince. The “Keep Ya Head Up” rapper also became known to fans as “Makaveli” after reading the text while incarcerated.
When it came time to craft the ring, Pac looked to the crowns of the medieval kings of Europe for inspiration. According to his godmother, advisor, “auntie,” money manager, caretaker, and lifelong supporter Yaasmyn Fula, Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur taught him from a young age, the following mantra, “You are our Black prince. You are my miracle, and you will make black people proud.” Fula was the one who offered up the ring for auction.
This is not the first time one of Tupac's possessions hit the auction block. that famously hit an auction block was Tupac’s breakup letter to a different former flame. In 2018, Tupac's breakup letter with Madonna hit the auction block. The singer, 64, unsuccessfully tried to stop the Gotta Have Rock and Roll auction house from auctioning off the letter.
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The bidding for the letter began at $100,000 and was written by Tupac while he was an inmate at the Clinton Correctional Facility in January 1995. “For you to be seen with a black man wouldn’t in any way jeopardize your career, if anything it would make you seem that much more open and exciting. But for me at least in my previous perception I felt due to my ‘image’ I would be letting down half of the people who made me what I thought I was,” the Poetic Justice star wrote in part. He also mentioned that he’d recently “grown both spiritually and mentally.”
On June 7, Tupac was posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His sister, Sekyiwa "Set" Shakur, spoke on his behalf at the ceremony. "As the proud sister of Tupac Amaru Shakur, the daughter of Mutulu and Afeni Shakur, it fills my heart with honor to stand here today representing the Shakur family," she said.
"Before anyone recognized his name, he knew he had the dream to have a star here on the Walk of Fame,” Set noted, adding that his supporters gathered to commemorate “the work and the passion that he has put into making his dreams come true. His heavenly star will shine a little brighter today."
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