In a historic moment for hip-hop enthusiasts and collectors, Tupac Shakur’s iconic custom crown-shaped ring, worn shortly before his untimely death, fetched an astonishing $1.02 million at Sotheby’s auction in New York. This sale marked a new milestone, making it the most valuable hip-hop artifact ever sold at auction.
The auction, organised by Sotheby’s to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hip-hop genre, showcased an array of coveted memorabilia, including autographed letters from Shakur and a demo tape of his hit single “Trapped.” However, it was Tupac’s 14-Karat gold ring that stole the show with its exquisite diamonds and rubies, and a touching inscription on the side that read “Pac & Dada 1996,” a testament to his engagement to actress Kidada Jones.
This iconic piece of jewellery was more than just an accessory; it held deep sentimental value for Tupac, who played an active role in its creation. Designed by the artist himself and meticulously assembled by skilled jewellers in New York City, the ring came to life during Tupac’s journey – shortly after his release from incarceration and just after signing a deal with Death Row Records.
Interestingly, the inspiration behind the crown-shaped design was drawn from Tupac’s fascination with Niccolò Machiavelli’s political manifesto, “The Prince.” After reading this influential work while in prison, Tupac adopted the moniker “Makaveli.” The crown design was a symbolic act of self-coronation, paying homage to the regal crowns worn by medieval kings of Europe. It was a profound statement of his resilience and determination to prevail through the challenges life threw his way. The ring appeared on his finger during the September 4, 1996, MTV Video Music Awards — his last public appearance before his tragic murder three days later in Las Vegas.
This auction not only celebrated Tupac Shakur’s enduring legacy but also showcased memorabilia from other iconic names in the industry, such as Mos Def, De La Soul, and Wu-Tang Clan, reminding us of the profound impact of music and culture.
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