UPDATED: Singer Kelly Clarkson Temporarily Blocked From Owning Jane Austen's Ring

Jane Austen's Ring, Kelly Clarkson
images courtesy The Telegraph and Amazon.

UPDATE: The Huffington Post reports that the Jane Austen House—a museum based in the author's former home—has received an anonymous donation of £100,000 to help repurchase Austen's ring from singer Kelly Clarkson. That's just £50,000 shy of the asking price, and the museum fundraiser Louise West is cautiously optimistic. "We are two-thirds of the way there in 48 hours, which is tremendous," she said, "but we're not there yet." 

The Jane Austen House has until December to raise the remaining funds. I don't want to jinx them, but it looks to me like Clarkson will have to ogle that ring in a museum just like everyone else. Indiana Jones would be proud.

Former "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson was temporarily prevented from taking home a ring once owned by Jane Austen, which she'd purchased at an auction alongside a rare edition of Persuasion. According to CBC News, British Culture Minister Ed Vaizey barred the ring from leaving the country until September 30th, with the hopes someone else will purchase the item from Clarkson. She's agreed to sell it too, provided they match the £150,000 she paid for it.

Why all this fuss over a ring? Apparently, the British government places these kinds of "exports" on items deemed national treasures all the time. Austen did not lead an extravegent life and died young, so any memorabilia previously owned by the author is an extremely rare find. Thus the desire to sell the ring to someone local.

My question is: why did the damn thing end up on a Sotheby's auction block in the first place? I find myself growling like Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade—"It belongs in a museum!" I mean, let's assume some jolly olde Englishman purchases the ring from this unworthy pop singer. Then what? Will it just sit in his private collection, where no one will ever see it or enjoy it? See my movie reference above.

What do you think? Is this silly?

Image of Persuasion (Dover Thrift Editions)
Author: Jane Austen
Price: $4.99
Publisher: Dover Publications (1997)
Binding: Paperback, 192 pages
Image of Stronger (Deluxe Version)
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
Part Number: 058/737
Christopher Shultz

News by Christopher Shultz

Christopher Shultz writes weird, dark fiction. His stories have appeared both online and in print, including most recently in Apex Magazinefreeze frame flash fiction and Grievous Angel. In addition to LitReactor, he has also written for Ranker.comCultured Vultures and Tor.com. At times, he dabbles in digital art and photography. Christopher lives in Oklahoma City with his fiancée Lauren and their two mostly well-behaved cats. More info at christophershultz.com.

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dufrescm's picture
dufrescm from Wisconsin is reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep August 7, 2013 - 9:42am

How very hypocritical of the British gov't. Weren't they the ones who plundered just about every Egyptian treasure ever found and hauled it all back to the British Museum?


Well played "culture minister"...

Amanda Roberts-Anderson's picture
Amanda Roberts-... August 7, 2013 - 8:29pm

I don't understand this, and it's very kind of Clarkson to offer to sell the ring. It was on the auction block, she bought it, she should be able to take it home. For the Culture Minister to backpedal and say "oh, well we didn't think an American would buy it," is extremely offensive. I hope no one else buys it so that Clarkson can give it a good home. (I would rather see her wear it as her "something blue" on her wedding day than to see it sitting unworn in a museum for the rest of time.)

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig August 13, 2013 - 9:29am

I agree, Amanda. If it was a National Treasure, then that should have been decided before someone else purchased it, and, I would think, it should be barred from individual purchase, period. It shouldnt' come down to WHO the individual is.

And, really, I am iffy about the idea that certain things "belong in a museum". In my opinion, if it will not likely be hurt or damaged by being out in the world, it isn't that big of a deal. I'm probably in the minority on that one though.

FupDuck's picture
FupDuck from Beavercreek, OH is reading American on Purpose August 13, 2013 - 10:42am

When young Indiana Jones spouts off about "It belongs in a museum", my inner monologue adds "where the own receives a sizeable cut of the proceeds raised by the admission fee to the special exhibit."  Or at least there is a small plaque next to the piece that reads "On loan from the private collection of Thomas Crown".

If the museum owns the piece, it should have been purchased by the museum, donated, bestowed, or bequeathed by the owner. If not owned by the museum, the item should be on loan to the museum either for the free ‘betterment of man’ or for the profit of the private owner.

Items seized by order of the government (at least in the United States), would be a violation of our Fourth Amendment right.  One of the reasons the thirteen colonies seceded from England was action such as this injunction against Kelly Clarkson.  Poor Kelly... The ring should be hers and not tied up in British politics.