The UK government has placed an export ban on a Jane Austen-owned ring that was bought by American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson at Sotheby's in 2012.
Clarkson paid a considerable price for the gold and turquoise ring, which was originally valued at up to £30,000. Her final bid saw the ring secured at £152,450 ($236,246), achieving a 408.1% increase on estimate.
However, culture minister Ed Vaizey has put a temporary export ban on the rare piece in an effort to keep it in its country of origin. It is one of only three pieces of jewellery known to have belonged to Austen.
"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," said Vaizey.
At the time of the sale, Sotheby's Gabriel Heaton commented: "It is the kind of object that you can imagine Jane Austen wearing; it is elegant and stylish, but plain and was not terribly expensive."
The current auction record for any Jane Austen item is held by the earliest and only privately owned manuscript from the author - a draft of her unfinished novel The Watsons - which sold for almost £1m ($1.6m) at Sotheby's in 2011.
The decision to grant Clarkson's export licence will be deferred until September 30, by which time it is hoped that an institution or museum can raise the funds to purchase the piece. If a serious intention to acquire the piece is shown, the decision may be extended to December 30.
This is certainly not the first export ban to be placed on rare collectibles, with an important Rembrandt self-portrait and a Julia Margaret Cameron photo album both stopped from exiting the UK recently.
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