Embarking on the Exhibition
In an astonishing display of nostalgia, a collection of Freddie Mercury’s personal items take centre stage this Friday in Britain. Get ready to feast your eyes on a delightful range of artefacts, from the whimsical wardrobe of this iconic rocker to his initial drafts of the masterpiece Bohemian Rhapsody and even items as personal as his ashtrays and artwork.
Sotheby’s Central London gallery has been morphed into a brilliant homage to the former residence of the Queen’s legend in the UK’s capital. The month-long exhibition, which precedes the six-stage sale of over 1,400 lots, resurrects the distinctive aura of Freddie’s former West London house. It was here, according to Sotheby’s, that Mercury amassed a collection of precious “relics” that have remained undisturbed for nearly three decades since his death in 1991.
Freddie Mercury: A Glimpse into the Star’s Private Universe
The exhibition shines a spotlight on Mercury’s beloved Yamaha baby grand piano, where he composed many of his hit songs. This treasured piece alone is projected to fetch a staggering £3 million (3.8 million).
Adding to the charm is the replica of Britain’s St Edward’s Crown, coupled with a dazzling cloak of faux fur, red velvet, and rhinestones. The Queen’s frontman donned these iconic pieces at the globally renowned Live Aid concert in 1985 and during the final renditions of God Save The Queen on his last tour with the band in 1986.
The exhibition, sprawling across 16,000 square feet (1,500 sq m), operates until September 5, coinciding with Mercury’s birth anniversary. It also houses an extensive range of Japanese decorative arts, ceramics, and other unique objects. Mercury’s love for the Japanese culture and its arts was well known, and this collection serves as a testimony to his eclectic tastes.
A Homage to Freddie’s Life at Home
A glance at Mercury’s home furnishings, from a well-used kitchen table to ornate cutlery and unique crockery, offers a hint of the exuberant hospitality the Queen frontman offered his guests. The exhibition also boasts a gilt-tooled, leather-bound “dinner party guest and menu book“, adorned with seating plans, menus, refreshments, and doodles, rounding off the homey feel of this spectacle.
Other unique objects like a colourful, fully operational 1941 Wurlitzer jukebox, estimated to rake in £25,000, are also on display. Loaded with classic records, this item is a testament to Mercury’s musical tastes outside his own discography.
Fans can also explore musical manuscripts, including 15 pages of drafts for Bohemian Rhapsody, revealing the hit song’s initial title was “Mongolian Rhapsody”. Pieces from Mercury’s dressing room, complete with sequinned stage suits, jackets, shoes, and glasses, add a personal touch.
A Cherished Tribute to the Star
This vast ensemble of personal artefacts, safeguarded by Mercury’s dear friend Mary Austin, is anticipated to collect a total of at least £6 million ($7.6 million). Austin plans to donate part of the proceedings to the Mercury Phoenix Trust and the Elton John Aids Foundation.
The exhibition and subsequent sales, hosted in London from September 6-8 and online from Friday to September 11, offer an apt tribute to Freddie Mercury, a passionate collector himself. With about 30,000 to 40,000 items showcased within the 1,400 lots, every artefact tells a tale of the multifaceted life of this rock legend. As Sotheby’s cataloguer Fenella Theis says, “Every piece is so autobiographical. So every piece resembles one of Freddie’s many, many, many facets of his personality.”
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