Celebrated singer-songwriter and music icon Freddie Mercury, who was born Farrokh Bulsara to Indian Parsi parents and spent his childhood years at a boarding school near Mumbai, has always been associated with flamboyance.
Now, the Sotheby’s auction house in London will be giving the world a behind-the-scenes glimpse of his flamboyant lifestyle at his home of many years. The lead vocalist of the band Queen, who died aged 45, was an avid collector and his cherished London home was preserved almost as it was by his closest friend and ex-girlfriend Mary Austin since his death over 30 years ago. She now plans to offer up this collection for an exhibition-sale and donate a portion of the proceeds of the sale to the Mercury Phoenix Trust and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
She said in a statement: “For many years now, I have had the joy and privilege of living surrounded by all the wonderful things that Freddie sought out and so loved; but the years have passed, and the time has come for me to take the difficult decision to close this very special chapter in my life.
“It was important to me to do this in a way that I felt Freddie would have loved, and there was nothing he loved more than an auction. Freddie was an incredible and intelligent collector who showed us that there is beauty and fun and conversation to be found in everything; I hope this will be an opportunity to share all the many facets of Freddie, both public and private, and for the world to understand more about, and celebrate, his unique and beautiful spirit.”
‘Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own’, a month-long exhibition opening on August 4 at Sotheby’s in London, will see over 1,500 items from Garden Lodge displayed in a sequence of specially designed immersive galleries, each one devoted to a different aspect of Mercury’s life. The exhibition will close on what would have been the singer’s 77th birthday on September 5.
Highlights from the collection will also tour New York, London, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong in June, followed by six dedicated auctions from September 6 and the release of a limited-edition commemorative Collection Book.
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The range of his belongings to be displayed and auctioned include stage costumes, handwritten lyrics, fine and decorative arts and precious objects:
Mercury's iconic replica St. Edward's Crown and cape will go under the hammer priced between £60,000 and 80,000
A handwritten manuscript is worth between £200,000-300,000
The handwritten lyrics to ‘Killer Queen’ are estimated between £50,000-70,000
A tiny silver moustache comb is priced between £400-600
The auction lots also include an acoustic guitar, a Picasso portrait and other rare and precious items from Garden Lodge – a Georgian-style brick villa which the late singer turned into a grand and theatrical home with beautiful works of art.
David Macdonald, Head of Single Owner Sales at Sotheby’s, said: “Freddie Mercury’s collection is a manifestation of one extraordinary man’s creativity, taste and unerring eye for beauty, presenting so much more than just an exquisite selection of the very best examples by artists across centuries and countries.
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“Like a Russian doll, Garden Lodge has revealed its layers of treasures over recent months, with the rich tapestry of objects we have discovered there taking us all on a glorious adventure through his imagination. Opening the door to the very special place that was Freddie Mercury’s home offers us the ultimate backstage pass into his world.”