Famous auction house Sotheby’s invites you to step into Freddie’s Mercury’s personal world in an extensive free exhibition that would make V&A and other well-known museums jealous. The exhibition ‘Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own’ will run until 5 September, which would have been Mercury’s 77th birthday, before six dedicated auctions starting the following day.
The vast collection of the singer’s personal belongings, which had been left to Mercury’s companion Mary Austin, had remained undisturbed in his Georgian-style villa in Kensington, West London, for 30 years since his death in 1991. Now Queen fans are presented with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see more than 1,500 items of the rock star under one roof.
Largest single-owner collection
Exhibits include extravagant costumes and handwritten lyrics, his beloved grand piano, polaroid photographs, trophies, record sales awards and even his home telephones. Some items are immediately recognisable from Queen frontman’s performances, such as his signature red cloak and crown (estimated £60,000 – £80,000), or the ‘Mercury wings’ he stitched to his stage costumes. However, the majority of the lots were seen only by those closest to the music icon.
The exhibition is arranged thematically over Sotheby’s 15 galleries. For instance, the first and second rooms are devoted to Mercury’s interest in and passion for Japanese art and objects. Another room called “At home” contains Freddie’s furniture and ornaments.
Artefacts and music memorabilia
The top lot, with an estimated value of £2,000,000 – £3,000,000, is Mercury’s treasured Yamaha G2 Baby Grand Piano, which he acquired in 1975 and on which he composed many of Queen’s most recognisable songs, including the enduring hit Bohemian Rhapsody, released that same year.
There’s also major music memorabilia like the Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics draft, which alone is estimated to be worth between £800,000 – £1,200,000. Also up for sale are previously unseen handwritten working lyrics to Queen’s We Are The Champions. The lyrics, which stretch over nine pages, are priced between £200,000 – £300,000.
A lavish ceremonial military-style jacket created for the singer’s legendary 39th Birthday Party Drag Ball in Munich in 1985, is priced between £12,000 – £16,000. Freddie Mercury’s worn Adidas high-top sneakers are priced between £3,000 – £5,000.
Do not fear the price tags; immerse yourself in the items together before their irreversible separation next month. After touring the displays, you can stop at Sotheby’s restaurant for a “Fat Bottomed Prawn Cocktail,” which Freddie often served at dinner parties or check out The Story Café which pays tribute to Freddie’s beloved cats.
The exhibition is free and open to the public with no booking required. More information and opening times are available here.