It looks like Tupac Shakur’s gold, ruby, and diamond-encrusted crown ring has ended up in — or rather, on — Drake’s hands. The jewelry piece, which the rapper wore to the 1996 VMAs shortly before his death, was auctioned off by Sotheby’s earlier this month in celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. On Friday, Drake shared an Instagram Story wearing the ring while promoting his feature on the latest Travis Scott album, Utopia.
It’s unclear whether Drake bought the ring through the auction, or if he’s just borrowing it from whoever did. Sotheby’s set the bid estimate at somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000, but the artifact ended up selling for more than $1 million.
The ring was originally crafted with New York jewelers soon after Shakur was released from prison and inked his deal with Death Row Records. In the catalog note for the item, Sotheby described the ring, stating: “Sitting atop a diamond-encrusted gold band is the ‘crown’ itself: a gold circlet studded with the three largest jewels in the entire piece—a central cabochon ruby, flanked by two pavé-cut diamonds.”
And there are layers of history behind the crown ring. Shakur’s godmother and money manager, Fulu, stated that the design was meant to represent the next phase of his career, something of “an act of self-coronation,” given the symbolic tie between rubies and monarchy.
Soethby’s hip-hop auction was guest curated by De La Soul’s Kelvin “Pos” Mercer, who told the auction house: “What’s so special about this ring is that it shows him in a moment where he was not necessarily on the front lines as an artist, but just a man expressing his love for another person, and that’s beautiful to see.”
On the outer, palm-facing side of the ring band, an inscription reads: “Pac & Dada 1996,” in dedication to his fiancée Kidada Jones. The auction house noted that the engraving, which would normally be placed on the inside of the ring, showed the most wear and tear upon inspection. “Ironically, the heaviest abrasions wore down the late icon’s name, almost rubbing “Pac” back down to the gold,” the catalog note reads.