Freddie Mercury Sale: Sotheby’s Monumental Dive Into the Public and Private Realm of a Global Icon
Step into Freddie Mercury’s world at Sotheby’s London this September. Music enthusiasts and collectors alike are eagerly anticipating Sotheby’s monumental auction of Mercury’s personal collection. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to delve into the public and private realm of a global icon who achieved worldwide fame as the lead vocalist and pianist of the rock band Queen. Mercury is one of the greatest singers in the history of rock music. However, only a few know of his equally profound passion for collecting. The upcoming sale series will showcase the kaleidoscopic world of Freddie Mercury, amassed carefully over decades.
Highlights of the sale include some of Freddie Mercury’s most beloved and recognized personal items, featuring the collection which has remained at Mercury’s home, Garden Lodge, for over three decades. In addition, the events will coincide with pop-up shops and restaurants inspired by Mercury himself.
On September 5, 1946, Farrokh Bulsara was born in Zanzibar to Parsi-Indian parents. Bulsara attended English-style boarding schools in India, where he took piano lessons. His family fled the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964, moving to England. By then, Farrokh had studied and written music for many years. In 1970, with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, Farrokh formed Queen and became the British singer and songwriting legend the world knows as Freddie Mercury.
The group began creating numerous hits for Queen, including rock anthems like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody to Love,” and “We Are the Champions.” Mercury, gifted with a four-octave vocal range, won his audience with his flamboyant stage persona and charismatic performances where he often interacted with the audience, as displayed at the famous 1985 Live Aid concert. On top of that, he also led a solo career and was a producer and guest musician for many renowned artists.
One of the most intriguing highlights of the auction is Freddie Mercury’s autographed working lyrics for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Comprising a staggering 15 pages, these extensive and detailed drafts offer unparalleled insight into the development and composition of Mercury’s magnum opus. Mercury also wrote early drafts of the introductory section with the alternate title “Mongolian Rhapsody,” later altered to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” From abandoned verses to iconic lines scattered across the pages, these artifacts provide a captivating glimpse into the creative mind of a musical genius. There are altogether 15 leaves of British Midland Airways stationery with a 1974 calendar in this lot. Estimated at GBP 800,000 to £1,200,000, this lot will be available with Sotheby’s on September 6, 2023, during The Evening Sale.
Renowned for his captivating performances on stage, Freddie Mercury defied the conventions of a rock frontman with his theatrical style. For fashion enthusiasts, Mercury’s signature crown and cloak ensemble is a standout piece available in the fall auction series. Designed by Diana Moseley, Mercury wore the crown and cloak throughout Queen’s ‘Magic’ Tour from June to August 1986. This regal attire encapsulates the singer’s flamboyant stage presence. His signature crown and cloak ensemble are estimated at GBP 60,000 to £80,000. This lot will also be available during The Evening Sale.
The imitation gold and jewel-encrusted crown, along with the sumptuous dark red velvet cloak, exudes opulence and theatricality. The crown has four dipped arches supporting a diamante-studded monde and jeweled spike. The regal cloak is embellished with gold-colored fleur-de-lis appliqué and real gold bullion trim. The red velvet cloak is boosted with an integral upper shoulder cape, trimmed with imitation ermine, lined in crimson satin, with a gold-tone metal chain fastening at the neck. Both items remain unlabeled. These items were an integral part of Mercury’s on-stage persona, evoking the iconic performances that have left an indelible mark on music history.
Mercury fell in love with Japan when he was visiting during Queen’s 1975 tour. He collected a stunning woodblock print from the Edo period titled Sudden Shower over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake. This masterpiece is part of the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo series by Utagawa Hiroshige, a renowned artist from the 19th century. The print is a breathtaking depiction of nature’s power and beauty. It aligns with Mercury’s appreciation for art and creativity beyond the realm of music. Such a treasure showcases the depth and diversity of the late singer’s collection, highlighting his love for art that transcended cultural and temporal boundaries.
More items with a significant emotional and historical value include Freddie Mercury’s arrow leather stage jacket and autographed manuscript working lyrics for the song “We Are the Champions.” The arrow leather jacket is an iconic garment worn by Mercury for Queen’s first and only appearance on Saturday Night Live on September 25, 1982. Notably, this performance marked Mercury’s last ever appearance in the United States. Being worn in this historic moment in Queen’s career makes it an artifact for fans and collectors to cherish. “We Are the Champions” has become an anthem of victory and resilience, celebrated worldwide at sporting events and beyond.
Sotheby’s promises the exhibition preceding the auction to be a one-of-a-kind experience. Visitors will be immersed in Freddie Mercury’s world through art, fashion, musical instruments, personal papers, photographs, furniture, and jewels. The auction is an opportunity to witness the multifaceted legacy of an artist who continues to inspire and captivate generations worldwide, forever immortalized through his remarkable collection of personal treasures.
For more information and updates on this auction, visit Auction Daily.