A ring in the shape of a crown, designed and worn by California rap legend Tupac Shakur shortly before his assassination in 1996, has sold for more than $1 million at an auction devoted to items from the hip-hop world organized by Sotheby’s. The gold jewel, adorned with rubies and diamonds, is now the most expensive item related to this musical genre ever purchased in such a sale.

The ring came from the personal collection of Yaasmyn Fula, a close friend of the artist and mother of another rapper, Yaki Kadafi, who with Tupac had founded the group Outlawz. He, too, was murdered a few weeks after his childhood friend.

“It is a ring designed by Tupac. He had just come out of a prison term in 1996 (for sexual assault, ed.),” during which “he had read Machiavelli’s The Prince,” a book that “fascinated him,” Cassandra Hatton, of Sotheby’s, told France presse. The item sold for exactly $1,016,000, including tax and commission, much higher than the initial estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.

The rapper, who was born in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood but became a symbol of West Coast California rap over the years, wore the jewel at his last public appearance, an MTV Video Music Awards ceremony on Sept. 4, 1996, nine days before he was gunned down in Las Vegas at the age of 25.

With songs such as “California Love,” “Dear Mama” and “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” he is still regarded as one of America’s greatest rappers. His murder nearly 30 years ago remains unsolved, and Las Vegas police conducted a search a week ago as part of the new investigation. The ring was the star of this sale of more than a hundred items, including rare clothing, posters, photographs and early demo tapes of rappers and bands.

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