Sotheby’s Dazzling Pre-Auction Exhibition Of Freddie Mercury Memorabilia

For a month, the contents of Freddie Mercury’s home, Garden Lodge in Kensington Garden, are on show at Sotheby’s, London. It is a massive, flamboyant, fascinating, and exquisitely curated display occupying all 15 galleries of the famous auction house. After the free exhibition, the 1,469 items will be auctioned in six sessions, with lots 1-60 going up on 6 September 2023.

If you are a Queen fan and can get to London in time, the Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own exhibition is a must-see. People who aren’t particularly interested in Queen or Mercury also have plenty of reasons to visit. Mercury had diverse tastes and a collector’s eye. If you’re interested in fashion, Japanese garments and artifacts, cat-themed art, fine furniture … I could go on. Take a look:

I didn’t even mention Freddie Mercury’s fine art collection which extends from the Pablo Picasso linocut Jacqueline au Chapeau Noir (Jacqueline in Black Hat, 1962) that hung in his kitchen, to paintings and drawings by Matisse, Goya, Chagall and Salvador Dalí. Neither did I mention the handwritten lyrics, the personal Polaroids, nor what many many consider to be the star of the show: the black lacquered baby grand Yamaha piano on which Mercury composed Bohemian Rhapsody and other songs.

Freddie Mercury left his mansion, his possessions, and his wealth (including most of his future earnings from Queen), to Mary Austin, his former girlfriend. Quite simply, Mercury regarded Austin as his closest friend and confidant. He said, “I might have all the problems in the world, but I have Mary and that gets me through.” Many fans and critics believe that the song Love of my life was written about Austin.

Dr Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s manuscripts specialist, explains Mary Austin’s decision to auction the collection: “Freddie loved auctions, he wasn’t interested in the museum. He loved Sotheby’s and was a regular client here. So Mary Austin thought this would be the route he would have wanted. That he would have found all this a blast.”

Mary Austin intends to donate some of the proceeds to the Elton John Aids Foundation and the Mercury Phoenix Trust. Not all of the items have high estimates. The lowest estimate is £20 for a china ornament. Thomas Williams, a Sotheby’s director, believes that “masses of people will be in a position to bid for a little piece of Freddie”. The exhibition runs from August 4 – September 5 (Mercury’s birthday). It is open seven days a week on a first-come first served basis. No tickets are required.

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