Tupac Shakur’s self-designed crown ring, worn by the rapper in his last public appearance before his death in 1996, highlights Sotheby’s upcoming auction celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
The gold, ruby and diamond encrusted ring is expected to receive bids of up to $300,000 when the item goes up for auction from July 18.
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According to the auction house, Shakur, then freshly released from prison and newly signed to Death Row Records, told his sponsor and fund manager Fula that he wanted to design a ring to represent the next step in his career, a jewel worthy of “an act of self-coronation”, said Fula.
Inspired by both royalty and Machiavelli, the rapper collaborated with New York jewelers to design the ring. “Sitting atop a band of gold encrusted with diamonds is the ‘crown’ itself: a circle of gold studded with the three largest jewels in the entire room – a central cabochon ruby, flanked by two cut diamonds en pavé,” Sotheby’s wrote of the article. “Tupac’s selection of the ruby as the main stone of his crown is a continuation of this royal narrative, as rubies have long been symbolically linked to imagery of monarchy and wealth in our cultural imagination.”
The band in the ring reads “Pac & Dada 1996”, a tribute to his then-girlfriend, Kidada Jones. Although worn frequently by Shakur during the last year of his life, the ring was on his left ring finger when it last appeared publicly on September 4, 1996 at the MTV Video Music Awards. Three days later, Shakur was shot four times in Las Vegas.
2Pac’s crown ring is the first item in Sotheby’s 50th anniversary hip-hop auction, which ‘will include art, artifacts, sneakers, and more’ from artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Ice-T, and more.
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