Tupac's Crown Ring Becomes Highest Valued Hip-Hop Artifact in Auction

By James Wilson July 26, 2023

The parabolic journey of Tupac Shakur's artistically conceived crown ring, which became the priciest hip-hop artifact ever sold at a commanding $1 million, and the spotlight on Sotheby's hip-hop dedicated auction highlighting the genre's global impact.

A coveted piece of hip-hop history graced the auction floor in New York City recently—the crown ring, ingeniously designed and previously owned by the luminary Tupac Shakur. This intricate masterpiece, festooned with gold, ruby, and diamonds, fated to be the last public embodiment of Shakur's grandeur during the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards.

Barely three days post this appearance, the icon was a victim of a deadly drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. His tragic demise, however, only amplified the allure of the ring that was projected to go under the hammer for a considerable $200,000 to $300,000 by Sotheby’s.

In a stunning revelation, the price soared to an astounding $1 million, cementing the ring's rank as the most of valuable hip-hop memento auctioned to date. The acquisition by an anonymous bidder only added intrigue to its eventful journey.

More than just an opulent accessory, the ring, skillfully crafted with unidentified New York jewelers, serves as an expression of Shakur's profound identity, inspired by the Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli's teachings, specifically encrypted in his influential political piece, "The Prince."

A personal facet included in this tangible piece of the rapper's legacy is the engraving "Pac & Dada 1996", a testament to his romantic involvement with fashion maven Kidada Jones, a scion of the renowned Quincy Jones lineage.

Cassandra Hatton, a key figure at Sotheby’s, posits the ring as a veritable symbol of Shakur's indelible mark on the hip-hop narrative. In her view, this custom-made artifact is a glowing testament to his boundless creativity and enduring influence.

The historic auction that witnessed this exceptional transaction was Sotheby's third venture dedicated to hip-hop relics. The anticipated event reeled in an impressive $1.8 million total, spotlighting the 50th anniversary of the genre that has radiated from its cradle in the South Bronx in 1973 to international status. The attractive portfolio, flaunting valuable memorabilia spanning music, art, and fashion, offered a tantalizing glimpse into the vibrant world of hip-hop.