A successful fundraiser that appealed to British pride has scuttled singer Kelly Clarkson’s chance of owning a ring that once belonged to iconic British author Jane Austen.
The Jane Austen House Museum announced Monday that its campaign to “Bring the Ring Home” was a success. It is believed to be one of only three items of jewelry that belonged to the author of such works as “Sense and Sensibility“ and “Pride and Prejudice.”
“We were really surprised,” museum assistant Isabel Snowden told ABC News. “It was incredible the amount of support we got.”
The gold and turquoise ring was in the Austen family for 200 years but was bought by American Idol winner Clarkson at an auction in 2012. But before she could take it out of the United Kingdom, a temporary export ban was put on the item because, according to a statement from the the British Department for Culture, Media and Sport, ”it is so closely connected with our history and national life that its departure would be a misfortune.”
Under the ban, bidders had until Sept. 30 to reach the target of £152,450 — roughly $245,109. If no one could raise the cash, the ring would then have gone to Clarkson.
“The export licensing system provides us with a ‘last chance’ to save treasures like these for a nation so they can be enjoyed by all of us,” British Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, who imposed the export ban, said in a statement.
The Jane Austen House Museum, located about an hour outside of London, is where Austen spent the last eight years of her life. The museum wanted to buy the ring at the auction last year but didn’t have the cash available. The temporary ban gave it a second chance. Launching their campaign in early August, the museum’s curator Mary Guyatt said she was “stunned” by the generosity shown. With the help of a £100,000 (approximately $160,000) pledge from a mystery donor, they were able to match Clarkson’s bid and keep the ring in the U.K.
The museum received donations from around the world, including the United States, Snowden said. “We’ve had lots of support from people in America, from people that have wanted to see it on display.”
Upon hearing the news that she would not be getting the ring, Clarkson said in a statement, “The ring is a beautiful national treasure and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it.”
Clarkson had been “very gracious,” Snowden told ABC News, adding that “we’d be delighted to welcome Kelly Clarkson to the museum.”
The ring will be on display to the public at the Jane Austen House Museum in 2014.