Kelly Clarkson bid to take Jane Austen ring out of UK

 

The singer has been seen wearing what is believed to be a replica of the ring in the US, including at President Obama's inauguration. Nik Gowing reports

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The British government is trying to stop US singer Kelly Clarkson taking a rare turquoise and gold ring once owned by Jane Austen out of the country.

The 2002 winner of the American Idol TV show bought the jewellery at auction last year for more than £150,000.

But Culture minister Ed Vaizey has put a temporary export bar on it and has appealed for UK buyers to come forward.

The ring is one of only three pieces of jewellery known to have belonged to the Pride and Prejudice author.

Mr Vaizey said he wanted the "national treasure" to be "saved for the nation".

Buyers have until 30 September to match the £152,450 price tag.

'Extremely rare'

The ring comes with papers documenting its history within the family of Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) who lived most of her life in Hampshire and is one of English literature's most celebrated authors.

Ring owned by Jane Austen The £152,450 ring is one of only three items of jewellery known to have belonged to Jane Austen

The ring passed first to her sister Cassandra, who then gave it to her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen on her engagement to Jane and Cassandra's brother, the Reverend Henry Thomas Austen.

It had remained in the family until Clarkson, who grew up in Texas, bought it at auction.

If a UK institution or private buyer does not come forward by the deadline then the export licence for the ring will be granted.

But the deadline can be extended to 30 December if proof emerges of "a serious intention to raise funds" to match the six-figure price tag.

Mr Vaizey said: "Jane Austen's modest lifestyle and her early death mean that objects associated with her of any kind are extremely rare, so I hope that a UK buyer comes forward so this simple but elegant ring can be saved for the nation."

The ring is one of four "national treasures" recently to have had temporary export bars put on them by the government,

Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin's famous Bentley Blower super-charged racing car could be exported if no UK buyer comes forward to match an offer of more than £5m made by an overseas buyer.

The other items are an archive of letters from General Wolfe and a collection of material that documents the Gregory Expedition to Northern Australia in the mid-1850s.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 300.

    This worship of relics is ridiculous. If it did not have a label, would you know or even care if it was her ring?

    I prefer the 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' take on relics of the famous, namely the ABBA "gift"....

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 299.

    Surely if there were a philanthropist out there who wanted to waste £150,000 on an ugly ring Miss Clarkson wouldn't have been able to buy it. As it stands now she bought it fair and square, let her take HER ring home with her, she's the legal owner.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 298.

    If it's of such cultural significance as that then it should have been marked as such before auctioning it became a possibility. It's not in itself an important item like an old scientific manuscript or a recently-discovered poem by Wordsworth. Kelly bought it legally and should be allowed to keep it. Maybe, if asked nicely, she'd consider loaning it to a Museum - maybe even in the UK?

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 297.

    Do you want to see this ring eventually end up in a museum abroad next to Pres. Mugabe's tooth-pick, the Rev. Swaggert's hanky, and JR's toe-nail clippings? I don't! This is part of our history and most importantly part of our future generations' culture. We must save this, especially since Jane Austen's personal effects are very scarce.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 296.

    Can this govt never stop flag waving to 'inspire' us flat cap wearing plebs? The singer bought it at auction. It's hers'. If anything this sounds illegal as the govt is trying to force someone to sell legally bought goods and prevent them from doing what they want with them.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 295.

    Ah good old BBC letting the British public have their say on the pressing issues of the day.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 294.

    @93 performance19

    If you're such a big fan of Jane Austen - how come you don't know how to spell her name?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 293.

    We can fairly assume Ms Clarkson purchased the ring as someone who appreciates the art of Ms Austen. Why should she be prevented from taking it to her home. I'm sure she would happily confirm to Mr Vaizey that she has no intention of melting it down to replace a dental filling for example.
    If Mr Vaizey feels so strongly, perhaps he should open up his wallet - I'm sure he could afford it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 292.

    Will people please stop making comparisons with industry being sold overseas? That's nothing to do with the culture secretary!

    Having got that out of the way I agree with all the people who've said that Kelly Clarkson was the highest bidder in a fair auction and should be allowed to take the ring out of the country. I also agree that we should give back the Elgin Marbles.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 291.

    Funny how it was okay to sell off London Bridge, RMS Queen Mary etc. Funny also that 'National Treasures' conveniently lose their status when too costly to maintain. The smell of foreign megabucks for a white elephant is too much to resist when convenient. Perhaps Mr Vaizey also needs to be reminded of proper procedure;

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2004/feb/28/artsandhumanities.books

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 290.

    The British Musuem (which is not the governmen) has the Elgin Marbles because Lord Elgin bought them from the government in power in Athens at the time. Once they were gone, they were gone. Greece can stop such things leaving Greece now, and we can stop such things leaving Britain now.

    So there is no comparison.

    Having said which I would not bother over this bit of trash.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 289.

    The overwhelming consensus on here seems to be that we don't know what all the fuss is about and that the girl has bought it legally - end of story.This government showing yet again how out of touch it is with public opinion and how it has its priorities all wrong.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 288.

    she bought it legally, it's hers, she can do what she wants with it

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 287.

    It's the books that matter. Funny thing that as modern society gets less religious it gets more superstitious, implying that ordinary things have some sort of specialness imparted by a famous owner.
    BTW, who is Kelly Clarkson? And what was/ is 'American Idol'? Hardly front-page stuff. The BBC does seem lately to have a mission to indoctrinate us all in the minutiae of life in the US.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 286.

    Can the government really take a stand on this when we have things that could equally be termed 'national treasures', obtained from other countries by sometimes dubious means in museums all over the nation?
    Elgin Marbles, anyone??

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 285.

    Did not know the ring existed. Would I miss it if it left and never came back - don't think so. More important things to fret about. Not worth pursuing, move on.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 284.

    How is a ring owned by an author anything to do with my heritage? That's not what I expect a government that represents me to be doing. The peculiarly British obsession with holding onto the past is a detriment to us doing well in the future.

    The family sold the ring. Someone bought the ring. They own it. They can take it where they want. I would have thought that's the law. It certainly moral.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 283.

    So let's get this straight. The police do not have any legal powers to recover a caravan from some gypsies that stole said caravan from a couple who bought it fair and square, but the government can stop a ring that has been bought completely legally at auction from leaving the country and insist that Clarkson sells to someone else that is going to keep it in the country. What a bunch of Morons.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 282.

    Surely a piece of jewellery is for wearing? Ms Clarkson has been photographed wearing (what is believed to be) a replica of the ring she has bought, suggesting she likes it, and intends to wear her new purchase. It has no significant value as a 'national treasure', so let the girl enjoy it. She certainly paid enough for it!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 281.

    If Kelly owns it, surely she can do what ever she wants with it, including melt it down for scrap.....or am I missing something?

 

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