A diamond and ruby ring designed by rap legend Tupac Shakur will lead Sotheby’s Hip Hop auction ending July 25. The crown jewels of rap are expected to fetch at least $200,000.
Tupac had designed the ring in 1996, just before he was shot in one of the music industry’s greatest mysteries, to celebrate his now infamous deal with Death Row Records and his release on bond from a correctional facility in New York.
Sotheby’s described the creation of the ring, which has the shape of a crown, as “an act of self-coronation” modeled after the crowns of the medieval kings of Europe and intended to “usher in a new era of prosperity” for the artist.
“Tupac’s selection of the ruby as the principal stone in his crown is a continuation of this royal narrative, as rubies have long been symbolically tied to the imagery of monarchy and wealth in our cultural imagination,” Sotheby’s said in a statement.
The ring also bears the inscription “Pac & Dada 1996” on the palm-facing side of the band to celebrate his recent engagement to Kidada Jones, the daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton and sister to fellow actress Rashida Jones.
It was worn during Tupac’s last public appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards, just days before his death and was put up for auction by Yaasmyn Fula, the late rapper’s godmother and trusted advisor.
Tupac typically wore the ring on his left-hand ring finger, according to Sotheby’s.
The auction is being held to celebrate hip hop’s milestone 50th anniversary since its inception in the Bronx borough of New York City in 1973.
Other memorabilia that will be auctioned include art, sneakers and jackets, posters, and more from musicians including Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Ice-T and Afrika Islam, Fab 5 Freddy, Big Daddy Kane, Futura, Lee Quiñones, UNKLE, and Mo’ Wax founder James Lavelle.
The 50th anniversary of hip hop is being organized by the entertainment company Mass Appeal, which is also planning a series of events across New York City including exhibitions at Fotografiska and the Hall des Lumières.