Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

Freddie Mercury's private collection up for auction and Metro has front row seat

Bidding for more than 1,000 of Freddie Mercury’s most personal belongings has begun, with fans expected to pay millions for items from his collection.

Tonight around 60 pieces from Freddie’s collection will go under the hammer on what would have been his 77th birthday, in the first bidding war over three days.

Metro has been given a front-row seat for the sale and will be bringing you the latest updates.

Items that will be up for sale tonight include the famous Yamaha Baby Grand piano that the music icon composed Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Stop Me Now and Somebody to Love on.

According to Sotheby’s the rare item is expected to fetch £2-3m.

Will you be taking part in the Freddie Mercury auction? Or have you been to visit his collection?

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Sotheby’s clapped together as the auction for the rock icon got underway with fans and suited and booted bidders singing along to ‘We Will Rock You’.

Auctioneer Oliver Barker started the bidding with the sale of the legendary Garden Lodge door of Freddie’s Kensington home.

In the closing stages of the bids there was a moment of excitement as the caller was disconnected with the bid at £310,000.

The wooden door covered in messages from fans was listed in the catalogue as a high bid of £25,000.

But the hammer went down on the first item in the sale for £325,000 and there was a huge round of applause from the crowd.

Later, Queen fans will also be able to try and get their hands on a number of Freddie’s famous outfits, and tonight one of his earliest costumes will be up for sale.

A black and white outfit worn by Freddie on the cover of Queen’s first album will also be on the podium.

Adidas high-top trainers, and an archive of 265 personal photos are also estimated to bring in thousands of pounds.

The sale follows a month-long exhibition, called Freddie Mercury ‘A World of his Own’, featuring a never-before-seen private collection of over 1,400 of the star’s personal possessions.

More than 130,056 guests have visited the London exhibition to see the collection – with the huge numbers exceeding expectations.

According to Sotheby’s, the exhibition has ‘sparked heartwarming moments’, including one last week when the 400m long, round-the-block queue broke spontaneously into a chorus of ‘We Will Rock You’ in celebration of Freddie.

However the sale by Freddie’s ex-fiancee, Mary Austin, has caused a rift between other members of the iconic group, with Brian May saying he is ‘too sad’ to watch the prized items being sold off.

Ahead of the auction, titled Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own, Brian took to Instagram to share a picture of his late bandmate playing his guitar alongside a heartfelt statement.

He wrote: ‘Inescapably thinking so much about Freddie in these strange days.

‘At the time this photo was taken I’m sure it didn’t seem very important to see Freddie’s fingers dancing on my own home-made guitar.

‘Now it summons up waves of affection and great memories. He is so missed.’

Brian went on to say: ‘Tomorrow while I’m speaking passionately to Welsh farmers about cows and badgers and bovine TB, Freddie’s most intimate personal effects, and writings that were part of what we shared for so many years, will go under the hammer, to be knocked down to the highest bidder and dispersed forever.’

The rockstar concluded his post by saying he ‘can’t look’ at Freddie’s beloved belongings being let go, as to him and his loved ones, ‘It’s too sad’.

Speaking about the exhibit, Charles F. Stewart, Sotheby’s Chief Executive Officer, said: ‘We are thrilled to have reimagined our London galleries in order to share such an intimate insight into the world of Freddie Mercury with so many of his fans.

‘The overwhelming popularity of this exhibition – the most visitors in our history – demonstrates the continued desire to discover fascinating objects with exceptional and unique provenance.’

Now, Sotheby’s says, Mary Austin, best friend and ‘soulmate’ of Freddie, who is auctioning the items, has ‘decided that Freddie’s adored Yamaha Baby Grand Piano, which she has so treasured over the years, should now be offered without reserve, so as to open the possibility of bidding to a broader base of potential buyers’.

She is said to hope that the instrument, which is expected to reach between £2-3 million, will ‘go a home where it will be loved, cherished and enjoyed to the full’.

Previously unseen drafts of a number of the musician’s songs, including Somebody to Love and We are the Champions, will also go under the hammer during the evening sale on September 6.

Among the other items on offer during the event will be Freddie’s most iconic stage-worn costumes: from his infamous crown and cloak to the ivory catsuit made for the BoRhap video in 1975, as well as an array of precious little things, including a Cartier onyx and diamond ring brooch gifted to Freddie by Elton John

James Jacques Tissot’s exquisite portrait, Type of Beauty, the last work of art Freddie bought is also among the lots, as is Freddie’s 1941 Wurlitzer Jukebox.

An archive of personalized photographs of – or taken by – Freddie will also go under the hammer, alongside many other items.

According to Gabriel Heaton, a specialist at the auction house: ‘We have here working lyrics for pretty much every song that Freddie Mercury wrote through the 1970s.

‘We’ve got extensive working drafts that really showed how songs developed, how they changed, how they took shape in the most wonderful way.’

Speaking about the sale of the piano, Heaton said: ‘Of all the objects that he had, this is the one that meant the most to him.’

With such a major range of person items on offer, including a pair of the star’s chopsticks and a sewing kit, smaller items like these are priced starting at £100 each. 

In a statement about the auction, fellow musician Elton John said: ‘I miss Freddie to this day.

‘He was a wonderful friend – more full of love and life than anyone I’ve ever met – as well as a brilliant performer whose music has inspired and thrilled millions.

‘Freddie and I shared a love of collecting and exchanged many gifts over the years, including some in this brilliant auction.

‘He was kind, generous and funny and it is a tragedy that AIDS took him from the world much too soon.

‘I am grateful to Mary for so lovingly curating his home, and for donating the proceeds from my gifts to Freddie to my Foundation, which continues to fight AIDS around the world, and I hope that would make Freddie smile.’

Proceeds from the sale of six items – some gifts from Elton to Freddie, others reminders of their friendship – will be donated to the Elton John Aids Foundation, in recognition of the close bond between the two musicians.

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