Tupac Shakur’s Ring Sells for $1.02 M. at Sotheby’s Auction

The ring worn during Tupac Shakur’s last public appearance sold at a Sotheby’s auction today during its hip-hop sale in New York for $1.02 million, more than triple its high estimate of $300,000.

The gold, ruby, and diamond crown ring was commissioned by the hip-hop artist in 1996 and worn during the MTV Video Music Awards that year. The ring was on offer through Yaamyn Fula, Shakur’s godmother and was inscribed “Pac & Dads 1996” on the band in reference to the artist’s engagement to Kidada Jones.

According to a Sotheby’s press release, the sale of the ring set a record for the most valuable hip-hop artifact ever sold at auction, and the only one to surpass $1 million after a bidding war.

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The auction also included clothing, shoes, and a sculpture by KAWS, a factory-sealed copy of a vinyl record designed by Jean-Michel Basquiat, several artworks by Futura, and six letters signed by Shakur and an original demo tape for the debut single “Trapped.”

Shakur designed the gold ring over several months after signing a deal with Death Row Records and serving eight months in prison. According to Sotheby’s, Fula said Shakur’s design was modeled on the crowns of the medieval kings of Europe in “an act of self-coronation” to celebrate his survival of a tough year.

The ring’s diamond-encrusted gold band is topped with a gold crown studded with a cabochon ruby in the center, flanked by two pavé-cut diamonds, and five more rubies at the crown’s points. In addition to rubies being tied to the images of monarchs and great wealth, Shakur’s royal narrative includes an affinity for Niccolo Machiavelli’s political manifesto The Prince, being named for the Peruvian indigenous revolutionary leader Túpac Amaru II, and Fula remembering the artist’s mother Afeni teaching him the mantra: “You are our black prince. You are my miracle, and you will make black people proud.”


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