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Jane Austen ring will stay in UK after £100K donation

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Aug. 13, 2013 at 12:12 PM   |   Comments

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Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Kelly Clarkson has found herself caught in the middle of a battle over a piece of British heritage, and she's likely to end up the loser, thanks to an anonymous donor pitching in £100,000 to buy back a ring owned by Jane Austen.

Clarkson outbid the Austen Museum to win a turquoise and gold ring, paying £152,450 at a Sotheby's auction last year -- five times the estimated price.

Unfortunately for the singer, who is a big fan of Austen's work and owns a first-edition of the author's last novel, Persuasion, the British government deemed the ring a national treasure, which qualified it to place a halt on the export of the ring.

Clarkson agreed to sell the ring for the price she paid, if a buyer came forward before September 30.

Now, thanks to an anonymous donation, the Austen museum is more than two-thirds of the way to their goal after just two days. The museum has until December to raise the remainder of the funds.

The museum, located at the author's Chawton home, also displays a turquoise bracelet and a topaz cross that belonged to Austen.

Louise West, the fundraiser for the Austen museum, noted the halt wasn't about Clarkson.

"Kelly Clarkson should have been informed that this export ban was likely to happen," West explained. "This is nothing against her at all -- it could be anyone -- and it does happen all the time, but we know that it is shame for her."

West actually said she was glad Clarkson was involved, as her interest was an indication of Austen's enduring popularity, 200 years after the publication of her most popular novel, "Pride and Prejudice."

"It is very good for Jane Austen PR that a young, famous American pop star expresses a love for her," West said.

Austen owned the ring in question until her death in 1817, when it passed to her sister Cassandra. Cassandra gave the ring to her sister-in-law Eleanor for her engagement to Jane and Cassandra's brother, Henry Thomas, and the ring stayed in the family until it was sold ast year.

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