This summer, Sotheby’s is presenting Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own, a once-in-a-lifetime series of auctions in which Queen singer’s prized possessions go up for sale.
Alongside his legendary public persona, Freddie Mercury was a deeply educated collector with a connoisseur’s eye, honed over years of careful research and exploration of the artists and movements that sparked his intellectual and aesthetic curiosity.
This collection, given on his death in 1991 to his friend Mary Austin, has remained at Freddie’s beloved Garden Lodge home for over three decades, and displays a quality and diversity of works that are a testament not only to his passion, but his brilliant mind.
“I like to be surrounded by splendid things. I want to lead a Victorian life, surrounded by exquisite clutter.”FREDDIE MERCURY
This rich legacy of over 1,500 items will now be shared for the very first time through a series of auctions at Sotheby’s London, in an immersive experience unlike anything that has been seen before.
The jewel in the crown of the sale series, The Evening Sale pays tribute to Freddie Mercury’s inimitable life, work and art. A multi-category sale comprising a refined selection of artworks, objets, costumes and lyrics, this is the story of one man’s extraordinary vision, artistry and exquisite taste.
Among the items on sale are hand-written lyrics for songs including one of Queen’s greatest anthems, We Are The Champions, including harmonies and chords, written across nine pages. They are expected to sell for £200,000-300,000.
The unseen working lyrics to Killer Queen, written on a single sheet of paper in black Biro in 1974, are expected to fetch £50,000-70,000.
Also included are one of Freddie’s own acoustic guitars, and the last art object he bought before his death, a painting by French artist Tissot, which is expected to reach £400,000-£600,000. Also included are works by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, along with other works of art and glassworks.
Mary Austin, now 72, has decided to sell the collection, “because I need to put my affairs in order,” she explains. She aded: “The time has come for me to take the difficult decision to close this very special chapter in my life.”
Beyond a few “personal gifts” and photographs of the pair together, Mary Austin is selling everything.
“I decided that it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to keep things back. If I was going to sell, I had to be brave and sell the lot.”
At Home gives us a glimpse into the remarkable world Freddie created at Garden Lodge. Behind that famous green door, visitors were met with an unrivalled collection of fine and decorative arts, porcelain and glass, all lovingly assembled over the years through his careful selection of works. With his intimate knowledge of the objects he acquired, the curation and display of these objects was of great importance to Freddie.
Guests to the house were witness to this celebration of craftsmanship, with many pieces being the finest examples of their kind. His ability to seamlessly pair styles and movements, from 19th Century European Furniture to Japanese ceramics, demonstrates his sophistication, talent and vision as a collector.
Visitors will be invited you to step into Freddie’s Mercury’s personal world in an extended exhibition at Sotheby’s London. Ahead of the London finale, highlights will be on view in galleries across the globe.The final auction is In Love With Japan. In the Spring of 1975, during the first of many visits whilst on tour, Freddie fell in love with Japan. It is through this important collection of Japanese art and objects that we see the breadth of Freddie’s profound passion for the country. Woodblock prints by the great masters, gem-like lacquer, fluid silk and fine porcelain all show Freddie’s adoration of Japan, as well as his academic expertise in the history of its culture and craft through the ages.
4 August–5 September
Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own | On Stage
Live Auction: 7 September 2023•12:00 BST• London
Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own | The Evening Sale
Live Auction: 6 September 2023•17:00 BST • London
Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own | At Home
Live Auction: 8 September 2023•10:00 BST • London
Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own | In Love with Japan
Bidding Opens: 31 August 2023•12:00 BST• London
Images courtesy of Sotheby’s