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Jane Austen's ring may stay in England; poor Kelly Clarkson

Jane Austen's ring may stay in England; poor Kelly Clarkson
Singer Kelly Clarkson, performing at the 2013 Grammy Awards, may not get to take possession of the Jane Austen ring she bought at auction last year. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Kelly Clarkson is currently out $235,000, is not able to take possession of the Jane Austen ring she bought last year, and faces British Austen fans who want to buy the ring back.

Clarkson, an avowed Austen fan who has also purchased a first edition of the author's novel "Persuasion," set off a battle with her purchase at auction of Austen's gold and turquoise ring. The British government stepped in, declaring the object a national treasure and placing a temporary export ban on the item on Aug. 1, meaning it can't leave the country.

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And now an anonymous donor has given $154,000 to a campaign by the Jane Austen's House Museum to buy Austen's ring.

The Austen House Museum started its campaign Friday, and the anonymous donation means it can make a "serious expression of their intention to buy the piece," according to the Guardian. The temporary export band was extended to Dec. 30.

"We were very excited that someone like Kelly Clarkson was a fan of Jane Austen," said Louise West, the museum's manager. "It's not what you'd expect from a young, cool U.S. pop singer. It says a lot about Austen's popularity and who she's popular with. It's not just middle-aged women."

West has extended an invitation for Clarkson to visit the House Museum as often as she'd like. If the ring is kept in Britain, the museum plans to display it next year during celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen's "Mansfield Park."

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