JANE AUSTEN MUSEUM BUYS RING AS KELLY CLARKSON PURCHASE BLOCKED
(The following press release from Jane Austen's House Museum was received by e-mail. The sender verified the statement.)
Museum successful in bid to bring Jane’s ring home.
Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, today announced that its fundraising campaign to try to “bring home” a gold and turquoise ring once owned by Jane Austen (1775-1817) has been successful and that sufficient funds have been raised to purchase the ring thereby preventing it leaving the UK.
The ring after having been in the Austen family ownership for over 200 years was sold at auction in 2012. Although the Museum was interested in acquiring the ring at the time of the auction it was unable to raise sufficient funds in the time available to meet the hammer price.
The ring was instead sold to the American singer Kelly Clarkson, a long time Austen devotee. However it became subject to a temporary export ban and Clarkson was prevented from taking it out of the UK.
The Museum’s ‘Bring the Ring Home’ fundraising appeal was launched at the beginning of August and was given a great boost with an anonymous donor coming forward immediately with a pledge of £100,000. Austen fans from all over the world have since added their donations and the Museum was able to reach its target well before the 30 September deadline to ‘show a serious expression of interest to buy the ring’.
The Museum is now able to reveal that their offer to purchase the ring has been accepted.
Mary Guyatt, Curator of Jane Austen’s House Museum, said ‘The Museum has been stunned by the generosity and light-footedness of all those who have supported our campaign to meet the costs of acquiring Jane Austen’s ring for our permanent collection. Visitors come from all around the world to see the house where she once lived and we will now take great pleasure in displaying this pretty ring for their appreciation. The Government’s decision to decline an export licence reflects how rarely Austen’s personal effects turn up in today’s art market, and having missed out at auction in 2012 we are thrilled to have had this second chance to bring it home to Chawton.’
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said, ‘I’m delighted that Jane Austen’s House Museum has been successful in their campaign to “bring the ring home to Chawton”. The export licensing system provides us with a “last chance” to save treasures like these for the nation so they can be enjoyed by all of us. It’s clear from the number of people who gave generously to the campaign just how admired Jane Austen remains to this day.’
Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: ‘This ring is a truly important piece of history in understanding one of literature’s greatest authors. It is fantastic that Jane Austen’s House Museum has managed to raise the funds to keep this on display for people to enjoy and admire. Those who have donated should be thanked for their enormous generosity. This is one of many items that have been saved for the nation this year – along with the seven Jewish silks recently saved by the Rothschild Foundation, and peridot jewellery, now on display at the V&A.’
Kelly Clarkson, on hearing that the Museum had been successful in raising funds to purchase the ring, said ‘The ring is a beautiful national treasure and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it at Jane Austen's House Museum.’
The ring will be put on display at Jane Austen’s House Museum in the New Year. We hope to be able to welcome Kelly Clarkson to the house in the future.
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Notes to Editors
Jane Austen’s House Museum was the home of Jane Austen for the last 8 years of her life and is where she wrote and revised all of her 6 completed novels. This year the Museum is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. The ring is a gold and turquoise ring which after Jane’s death was passed first to her sister Cassandra and later to her brother Henry’s second wife Eleanor and subsequently through various family members.
Turquoise was a December birthstone (Austen’s birth month) and symbolises wisdom and spiritual journeys. It is not known who originally gave Jane the ring or if she purchased it herself with money from the sale of her books.
Enquiries regarding Jane Austen’s House Museum: Madelaine Smith T: 01420 83262 e: email@example.com
For more information about the export ban and for images of the ring see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/last-chance-to-keep-birkins-bentley-blower-ja ne-austen-ring-baines-records-and-james-wolfes-letters-in-the-uk