Not solely was Freddie Mercury recognized for projecting extravagance in each his music and public persona, however that sensibility additionally mirrored within the legendary Queen singer’s private pursuits and tastes. His Backyard Lodge house in Kensington, West London, the place he resided from 1980 up till his demise in 1991, contained quite a few magnificent objects corresponding to high quality artwork, costumes, ornamental items of furnishings, and most notably the handwritten lyrics to among the greatest hits he wrote for Queen.
Many years later, these objects from the singer’s assortment will go on the public sale block through Sotheby’s beginning Wednesday—the day after what would’ve been his 77th birthday (Highlights of “Freddie Mercury: A World of His Personal” have been proven this summer time in New York Metropolis, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, whereas a foremost exhibit that includes the total assortment continues in London by Tuesday). Proceeds from the public sale might be donated to the Mercury Phoenix Belief and the Elton John AIDS Basis.
Backyard Lodge had been entrusted within the care of Mary Austin, one of many singer’s closest and dearest buddies, following his demise. Based on David Macdonald, Sotheby’s London head of single proprietor gross sales, the public sale had been within the works because the starting of 2023. “There have been so many alternative levels to the venture, from the unforgettable second I stepped into Backyard Lodge for the very first time,” he remembers, “to the cataloguing of those 1,500 or so heaps over many months (involving specialists from over 20 completely different gathering classes) to the arrival of all of the property in our New Bond Avenue galleries prepared for putting in the exhibition.
“It has been an extremely collaborative course of at each stage – in fact with Mary Austin, but additionally with among the folks he labored collaboratively with in costumes and plenty of of Freddie’s buddies who’ve been so sort as to share their very own recollections of items within the assortment. And that strategy of archaeology – of peeling again the layers of historical past surrounding every object – nonetheless continues immediately. Now that the exhibition is open and all of the heaps can be found on-line, we’re studying extra on a regular basis from individuals who knew him and have their very own tales to inform.”
The objects featured within the public sale is a nostalgic journey into the singer’s life and profession in addition to Queen’s historical past. There’s the ivory satin outfit that he wore for the groundbreaking “Bohemian Rhapsody” video together with star-shaped sun shades much like those featured within the promotional clip of “We Will Rock You.” The memorable crown and cloak he donned throughout Queen’s 1986 Magic Tour and the opulent outfit he sported for his 39th party can even be up for bidding, in addition to different curious objects as corresponding to his Tiffany and Co. mustache comb and Adidas high-top sneakers. Moreover prints and works on paper from such artists as Picasso and Matisse, plus a kimono and an acoustic guitar additionally grace the gathering.
“It celebrates the famous person the world remembers, however on the similar time additionally reveals his refined personal style,” says Macdonald. “All these months on, I’m nonetheless blown away by the seeing his showstopping stage costumes, or the handwritten lyrics to songs that proceed to offer the soundtrack to our lives immediately.
“Nonetheless, it’s been equally thrilling to find the quieter items within the assortment – the artwork deco furnishings, the French glass, the Japanese artwork,” he continues. “These are all areas that he not solely cherished to gather however did so in depth and with actual understanding. The non-public items within the assortment – these he maybe introduced again with him from excursions, or bid on in our public sale room – inform us a lot about who he actually was.
To a Queen fan, the crown jewel of the public sale must be the singer’s autograph manuscript draft lyrics for the long-lasting “Bohemian Rhapsody” from 1974 (value an estimated £800,000 – 1,200,000), adopted by different handwritten draft lyrics to “We Are the Champions” (£200,000–300,000) and “Killer Queen” (£50,000–70,000).
“It’s arduous to overstate the importance of a tune like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and these handwritten lyrics are its supply code, revealing its foundations and secrets and techniques,” explains Macdonald. “We’d contemplate it a landmark occasion in the event that they alone have been being provided on the market, nonetheless the providing of so many lyrics for all these unbelievable songs, coming immediately from a musician’s property is just unprecedented.
Macdonald says probably the most precious providing within the sale is Mercury’s Yamaha Child Grand piano, estimated at £2 million-3 million. “That is the right pairing to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and to all of the lyrics, being the working instrument on which he composed songs from “Bohemian Rhapsody” onwards. The is the device with which he introduced his imaginative and prescient to the world, the nuclear reactor when it got here to his creativity! Nearly like a painter’s palette, this was Freddie’s chosen medium for his artwork. It was on the coronary heart of his house and saved in pristine situation.”
He provides that the sale is a celebration of the singer “and doing one thing we hope he would have loved. He cherished auctions – a lot of the artwork on provide was purchased this fashion (the sale even consists of a few of his marked-up Sotheby’s public sale catalogues) – so it felt solely pure to observe the public sale route and to placed on a present his followers may actually take pleasure in. 75,000 folks have to this point visited our exhibition with nonetheless nearly a fortnight to go. He was such a great shopper we actually do owe it to him.”
The Sotheby’s official describes his involvement for this endeavor as a privilege. “Like for many individuals, Freddie Mercury’s voice and music has been omnipresent in my life,” he says. “I can’t keep in mind a time I first heard his music because it’s merely at all times been there.
“After I first stepped by the door of Backyard Lodge,” Macdonald continues, “I felt nearly as if I have been getting into Tutankhamen’s tomb – there have been so many treasures inside ready to be found. Nonetheless if I have to spotlight a number of – there’s a faculty poetry guide signed “Fred Bulsara” and crammed along with his pencil notes. I like this as a result of it takes us proper again to the start when he was simply Freddie, earlier than he joined a band, earlier than fame. There’s additionally a Faberge clock which pulls so many threads within the assortment collectively. It’s extremely private, being that it stood on his bedside desk. It’s by a wonderful maker that screams luxurious, and dates from the early twentieth century, a interval he cherished. And it was purchased at public sale – at Sotheby’s the truth is. We even have the public sale catalogue he marked up for the sale.”
Freddie Mercury: A World of His Personal public sale through Sotheby’s will begin on September 6.