The British government has temporarily blocked pop singer Kelly Clarkson from removing a rare piece of literary memorabilia — a ring owned by beloved novelist Jane Austen — from the U.K.
British Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed an export hold on the ring until Sept. 30, in the hope that someone will come forward to buy the ring and keep it in the country.
Clarkson purchased the gold and turquoise ring for a bit more than £150,000 at a 2012 Sotheby's auction of English literature, history, children's books and illustrations in London. At the time, the Grammy-winning singer and inaugural American Idol winner also purchased a first-edition copy of Austen's novel Persuasion.
The famed author of classics like Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Mansfield Park gave the ring to her sister, Cassandra. It was handed down to family members, before ultimately turning up for the 2012 auction.
Because Austen had lived a modest lifestyle and died relatively young, "objects associated with her of any kind are extremely rare," Vaizey said on Thursday.
"I hope that a U.K. buyer comes forward so this simple but elegant ring can be saved for the nation."
The U.K. regularly issues temporary holds on the export of artwork or items deemed to be national treasures, in order to give time for a domestic buyer (or buyers) to obtain them. Highly publicized campaigns, often led by artists, galleries and arts charities, have kept famous works like Titian's 16th century masterpiece Diana and Actaeon and Edouard Manet's Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus on British soil.
In this case, Clarkson has agreed to sell the ring if a buyer (or campaign) comes forward with £152,450 ($238,096 Cdn), the price she paid for it last year.