Last year, singer Kelly Clarkson paid £152,450 (about $241,000) for a ring that once belonged to Jane Austen.
Now, Britain’s culture minister, Ed Vaizey, wants to stop the 31-year-old Texan pop star from taking the ring out of the country. He has enacted a temporary export ban on the item, arguing that there are too few remaining relics known to have belonged to the 19th century writer.
“Jane Austen’s modest lifestyle and her early death mean that objects associated with her of any kind are extremely rare,” he says, quoted in The Guardian . “So I hope that a UK buyer comes forward so this simple but elegant ring can be saved for the nation.”
The ring is gold with a turquoise stone and is thought to be a gift from her sister Cassandra. After Austen’s death, it was passed down through the family. Vaizey is hoping that a British institution or private buyer will step up and try to match the price.
The BBC reports that the licence will be granted to Clarkson if no serious offers are made by Dec. 30.
The Guardian has created a poll that asks readers whether they think the sale of the ring represents a loss to the nation. So far, 70 per cent of respondents seem to think that Clarkson can keep the ring.
Perhaps the better question is whether Vaizey’s ban constitutes as prejudice. What if an American museum had been the final bidder instead of an American Idol? Let’s give Clarkson the benefit of the doubt; she likely knows better than to wear the ring on her next concert tour.
Naturally, Jezebel has weighed in on the issue, suggesting, “Kelly Clarkson obviously bought the ring because she wants the ring, so trying to sell it from under her is kind of rude.”
Or maybe Vaizey is justified in his actions; the ring is thought to be one of only three documented jewellery pieces that belonged to Austen.
No word yet from Clarkson who probably did not expect to be embroiled in a matter of patriotic pride when she bid on the ring. But if she was willing to spend such a high amount for the keepsake, she’s clearly a hardcore Austen fan. Go figure.