American Idol Kelly Clarkson faces export ban from UK Government over Jane Austen ring


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The Independent Culture

The Government has stepped in to stop US singer Kelly Clarkson taking a gold and turquoise ring once owned by Jane Austen out of the country.

The star, who shot to fame when she won the American Idol show, bought the jewellery at auction last year for more than £150,000, but culture minister Ed Vaizey has put a temporary export bar on the work in a bid to keep it in the UK.

The ring is one of only three surviving pieces of jewellery known to have belonged to the Pride and Prejudice author, having been given to her sister Cassandra and then passed down through the family before it was sold.

Mr Vaizey said: "Jane Austen's modest lifestyle and her early death mean that objects associated with her of any kind are extremely rare, so I hope that a UK buyer comes forward so this simple but elegant ring can be saved for the nation."

The decision on the export licence will be deferred until September 30 and can be extended to December 30 if proof emerges of "a serious intention to raise funds" to match its six-figure price tag.

Austen, whose face will appear on £10 notes from 2017, wrote six full novels which cemented her place in the canon of English literature.

The books, which are regularly adapted for television and film, continue to sell well almost 200 years after her death at the age of 41, in 1817.

Clarkson, who grew up in Texas, has sold more than 20 million records since winning the US talent show in 2002.

The Government has also issued three other export bars, including one on an archive of letters belonging to Major James Wolfe, who became a national hero after his death at the Battle of Quebec in 1759 which saw Britain drive the French out of large parts of Canada.

The 232 letters are valued at £900,000.

A bar was also placed on the export of a collection of paintings, writings, charts, photographs and drawings documenting a 19th century British exploration of northern Australia valued at £4.2 million, and a £5 million single-seater Bentley racing car that once belonged to pioneering racing driver Sir Henry Birkin.