A collection of never-before-seen personal possessions from the London home of Freddie Mercury, the British singer-songwriter of Indian Parsi descent, will go on a world tour-cum-exhibition followed by six auctions, Sotheby’s auction house announced in London on Wednesday.
Mercury, who was born Farrokh Bulsara and spent his childhood in India, where he went to boarding school at Panchgani, lived much of his adult life at Garden Lodge in Kensington, west London.
One of the highlight lots of the upcoming auction includes Mercury’s crown – a replica of the St. Edward’s Crown to be worn by King Charles III in the forthcoming Coronation on May 6 – which will go on display in Sotheby’s New Bond Street windows in London from Wednesday.
The flamboyant 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.
“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,” said Austin, who plans to donate a portion of the proceeds of the sale to the Mercury Phoenix Trust and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
“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," Austin said.
"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,” she said.
The month-long exhibition at Sotheby’s opening on August 4 will see over 1,500 items from Garden Lodge displayed in a sequence of specially designed immersive galleries, each devoted to a different aspect of Mercury’s life.
The exhibition will close on what would have been his 77th birthday on September 5, and prior to this London exhibition, highlights from the collection will tour New York, London, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong in June.
Six dedicated auctions will then kick off on September 6, with online auctions running alongside. The auction will be accompanied by the release of a limited-edition commemorative Collection Book as well.
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 GBP 60,000 and 80,000; a handwritten manuscript is worth between GBP 200,000-300,000; the handwritten lyrics to ‘Killer Queen’ are estimated between GBP 50,000-70,000; and a tiny silver moustache comb is priced between GBP 400-600.
Besides, the auction lots will include an acoustic guitar, a Picasso portrait and other rare and precious items from Garden Lodge – a Georgian-style brick villa that the late singer turned into a grand, theatrical home with beautiful works of art.
“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,” said the Head of Single Owner Sales at Sotheby’s, David Macdonald.
“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,” he said.
“Freddie Mercury’s sensational life has left us with a rich array of artistic moments that still move and astound us, a legacy that, like his music, will live on forever,” added Oliver Barker, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe.
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