The legendary rapper Tupac Shakur’s gold, ruby, and diamond crown ring, worn during his final public appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards on September 4, 1996, was sold for an astounding $1 million at an auction in New York on Tuesday. The winning bid far surpassed Sotheby’s pre-sale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000, making it the most valuable hip-hop artifact ever sold, according to the auction house.
Tupac Shakur, born in New York, designed the ring over several months, drawing inspiration from the crowns worn by medieval European kings. He was influenced by the political manifesto “The Prince” by 16th-century Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli, which he read while incarcerated on sex abuse charges.
The ring holds sentimental value as it bears the engraving “Pac & Dada 1996,” a reference to his girlfriend Kidada Jones. Its design features a gold circlet adorned with a central cabochon ruby flanked by two pave-cut diamonds, all sitting atop a diamond-encrusted gold band.
Yaasmyn Fula, Tupac’s godmother, played a crucial role in putting the ring up for sale, preserving this significant piece of hip-hop history.
The auction was part of a dedicated hip-hop event, commemorating 50 years of the genre, which marks its anniversary in August this year.
Tupac Shakur, renowned for hits like “California Love,” is considered one of the greatest rappers of all time, having sold 75 million records. He was a prominent figure in the West Coast hip-hop scene based in Los Angeles, which experienced tensions and rivalries with East Coast rappers from New York.
Tupac’s murder remains unsolved to this day, and various theories about the identity of his assailant have circulated over the years. His death was followed by the killing of East Coast rapper Christopher “The Notorious BIG” Wallace six months later, leading some to believe it was part of a rivalry between their music labels, Death Row based in LA and Bad Boy Entertainment in New York. However, some music historians assert that the coastal rivalry was exaggerated for commercial reasons.
Recently, Las Vegas police conducted a search at a home as part of their ongoing investigation into Tupac Shakur’s murder.