Earlier this week, Tupac Shakur’s iconic “crown” ring, which the rapper designed and commissioned months before his untimely death in 1996, sold for $1,016,000 at Sotheby’s New York.
A bidding war pushed the purchase price up to more than three times the lot’s high estimate of $300,000 (estimates do not encompass fees; final prices do). Typically, auction winners remain anonymous, but on Friday, July 28, the victor outed himself as the new wearer of the crown.
In an Instagram story, rapper Drake posted a picture of himself holding the newly acquired piece of jewelry. Sotheby’s confirmed that he was the buyer shortly afterward.
Topped by a miniature crown crafted in gold, rubies, and diamonds, the ring represented “an act of self-coronation” for Tupac, according to Yaasmyn Fula, his godmother and money manager, who consigned the item. Engraved on its band is the inscription “Pac & Dada 1996,” referencing his engagement to Kidada Jones.
Tupac wore the ring to the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards in what would turn out to be his last public appearance. Three days later, on September 7, the rapper was shot four times in a drive-by attack in Las Vegas. He died on September 13 at the age of 25.
This week, the ring hit the block as part of Sotheby’s Hip Hop sale, organized in honor of the medium’s 50th anniversary. The company, always eager for a superlative, described it as the “most valuable Hip Hop artifact ever sold at auction.”
“This one-of-a-kind, custom ring was meticulously designed by Tupac and is among the final products of his boundless creative energy—a unique artifact from a period of time that is a testament to his enduring influence on both Hip Hop and global contemporary culture,” Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s Global Head of Science & Popular Culture, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that this exceptional piece has entered a new chapter in the hands of another legendary artist.”
Drake has a long-held obsession with Tupac. In 2020, he commissioned a Beverly Hills jeweler to make a pair of diamond-encrusted pendants featuring the late musician’s face in a crown of thorns. Earlier this year, fellow rapper Lil’ Yachty claimed that all the bathrooms in Drake’s mansion have toilets that play Tupac songs.