In a remarkable auction at Sotheby’s, a custom crown-shaped ring worn by the legendary rapper, Tupac Shakur, shortly before his untimely death was sold for an astonishing $1.02 million on Tuesday. The sale not only set a new record for the most valuable hip-hop artifact ever sold at auction but also became a significant moment in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the musical genre.
The 14K gold ring, adorned with dazzling diamonds and rubies, boasts an inscription on the side that reads ‘Pac & Dada 1996,’ a touching reference to Tupac’s engagement to actress, Kidada Jones during that period. Its unique design was inspired by the crowns of medieval kings of Europe, symbolising an “act of self-coronation” reflecting Tupac’s admiration for Niccolo Machiavelli’s political manifesto, The Prince. It was custom-designed by Tupac himself and assembled by jewellers in New York City following his release from prison and his signing with Death Row Records.
The auction, which featured a collection of esteemed hip-hop artifacts, included autographed letters from Shakur and a demo tape for his single, Trapped. Prior to the auction, the crown-shaped ring was conservatively estimated to sell between $200,000 to $300,000, but the final bidding soared to extraordinary heights, underscoring the enduring influence and admiration Tupac holds even years after his passing.
Yaasmyn Fula, the artist’s godmother, was pivotal in offering the ring for auction. She revealed that the ring was not just a piece of jewellery but a symbol of Tupac’s resilience and survival through the tumultuous times of his life. In 1996, the rapper underwent a transformation, adopting the moniker ‘Makaveli’ after reading Machiavelli’s, The Prince while incarcerated.
The crown-shaped ring holds particular significance as it was also seen on Tupac’s finger during his final public appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1996. Tragically, the world lost the iconic rapper just three days later when he was shot and killed in Las Vegas. The ring, with its rich history and connection to Tupac’s last moments, carries immense sentimental value for fans and collectors alike.
The Sotheby’s auction wasn’t solely dedicated to Tupac. It also featured memorabilia from other influential hip-hop figures such as Mos Def, De La Soul, and Wu-Tang Clan, celebrating the genre’s profound impact on the music industry and culture.
As the custom crown-shaped ring settles into its new home, it will undoubtedly continue to be a symbol of Tupac Shakur’s lasting legacy in the world of hip-hop and beyond. The auction serves as a powerful reminder of the profound impact he had on the music industry and the enduring influence he continues to exert on fans and artists alike.