The latest update in Jane Austen hysteria: The author's gold-and-topaz ring, which singer and noted Austen-phile Kelly Clarkson purchased for $244,000 at a Sotheby's auction last year, has been prevented from leaving Britain for America. In a frantic attempt to protect the ring, Jane Austen's House Museum launched a campaign to raise enough money to purchase the piece from Clarkson, and Ed Vaizey, the U.K. Minister of Culture, hustled to place a temporary export ban on the ring earlier this month so it could "be saved for the nation." Lucky for Britain, a savior has arrived. Yesterday, an "anonymous donor" gave roughly $154,520 to the cause, enabling the museum to show a "serious intention" to purchase back the ring and preserve it forevermore in its native England — far from the clutches of American hands. The museum still needs to raise $76,101 to match Clarkson's bid, but the export ban on the ring has been extended to December 30. Until then, Britain's dramatic scramble to protect a national treasure from an American Idol will continue.
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