Baby Grand Piano, Bohemian Rhapsody Lyrics & Everything Else That Sold At The First Freddie Mercury Auction

By Olivia Emily

10 months ago

Every item up for bidding was sold


Last night, a whopping £12 million was spent across 59 never-seen-before items from the late Freddie Mercury’s private collection. It was the first of six auctions hosted by Sotheby’s, putting 1,400 of the star’s personal items up for auction, from a Baby Grand Yamaha Piano to handwritten lyrics. Here are all the details to know.

Over £12 Million Spent At Sotheby’s First Freddie Mercury Auction

During the 'Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own' evening sale at Sotheby's on September 06, 2023 in London, England.

(Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s)

A chant of ‘We Will Rock You’ commended the first Freddie Mercury: A World of his Own auction at Sotheby’s London saleroom last night, the first of six auctions devoted to the late star’s private collection. Over four and a half hours, over £12 million was spent by buyers from 61 countries on 59 items spanning art, costumes and lyrics.

‘It has been a once-in-a-lifetime privilege for all of us at Sotheby’s to celebrate the legend that is Freddie Mercury,’ says Sotheby’s Europe Chairman Oliver Barker. ‘I have almost lost count of the number of auctions I have presided over from this rostrum, but I know for certain that I will never forget bringing the hammer down tonight – nor will I forget the electric atmosphere that both imbued the auction room and that has taken over our galleries for the past month.’

‘Many months ago now, I first stepped into Garden Lodge, unchanged from when Freddie Mercury lived there, and in that moment I knew that this would be an adventure like no other,’ adds David Macdonald, Head of Single Owner Sales at Sotheby’s London. ‘From the outset, we had a responsibility to all those who loved Freddie to do his collection justice, and we have been overwhelmed by the support we have received and all that we have together uncovered about Freddie as a collector along the way.’

Standout Sales At The First Freddie Mercury Auction

Mercury's Yamaha Baby Grand Piano

(Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s)

Mercury’s Baby Grand Yamaha Piano

Some of the greatest songs of the 20th century were composed on this piano, including ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and ‘Somebody to Love’. Selling to an online bidder for £1,742,000, it broke the record for a composer’s piano.

Mercury’s 1941 Wurlitzer Jukebox

Acquired by Mercury for his kitchen, this Jukebox sold for 20 times its estimated price, at £406,400. It still operates on coinage and spins some of Mercury’s favourite songs, including ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’ by Ray Charles, ‘Rip It Up’ by Little Richard and ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ by Bill Haley.

Garden Lodge Door

When Mercury died at his Kensington home in 1991, fans flooded to leave flowers and messages for the singer on his home’s outer walls and doors. Mercury had lived at Garden Lodge, Logan Place since 1980, and one door covered in graffiti left by fans sold for £412,750 last night.

Bohemian Rhapsody Lyrics

The working sheet of lyrics for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, circa 1974, reveals an alternative title and narratives for Queen’s greatest commercial hit – and it sold for a sweet £1,379,000. Meanwhile, ‘We Are The Champions’ (c. 1977) sold for £317,500 and ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ sold for the same price. A draft of ‘Killer Queen’ attracted £279,400, and ‘Somebody to Love’ sold for £241,300.

Freddie Mercury’s autograph working lyrics for Bohemian Rhapsody (c. 1974)

Freddie Mercury’s autograph working lyrics for Bohemian Rhapsody (c. 1974) est.£800,000 – £1.2 million © Queen Music Ltd/Sony Music Publishing UK Ltd (1)

Mercury’s Crown & Cloak

This signature costume, which Mercury wore at the end of every gig on The Magic Tour, including Queen’s last ever live show together in 1986, sold for £635,000.

Mercury’s Jackets

Best known from the Hot Space tour in 1982, Mercury’s rainbow-coloured satin appliqué jacket, which moves like the feathers of an exotic bird, sold for £203,200. Meanwhile, his leather arrow stage jacket (1982) – worn for Queen’s only every appearance on Saturday Night Live, which was Mercury’s last  ever performance in the US – sold for £190,500. A black silk velvet and sequin jacket, worn in the Bohemian Rhapsody promotional video (1975), sold for £139,700.

Silver Snake Bangle

Recognise this bracelet? Mercury wore it in the 1975 ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ video, and then many times during the ‘70s. It sold for £698,500 – a new record for a piece of jewellery belonging to a rockstar, and 100 times higher than it was expected to go for.

Freddie Mercury’s Crown and accompanying cloak

Freddie Mercury’s Crown and accompanying cloak

Cartier Ring Gifted By Sir Elton John

Selling at £273,050, 100 percent of the hammer price of this onyx and diamond Cartier ring – which was a gift from Sir Elton John to Mercury – will be donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. ‘I miss Freddie to this day,’ says Elton John. ‘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.’

‘Queen Number 1’ Brooch

When ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ hit number one in the UK charts in 1975, Queen’s manager John Reid gifted each band member a gold Cartier brooch, inscribed with ‘Queen Number 1’ in a typeface replicating the band’s debut album. Last night, Mercury’s sold for £165,100. Meanwhile, two diamond rings were sold for £120,650 and £165,100, a feather-like diamond brooch was sold for £171,450, and a Fabergé jewelled gold-mounted agate vesta case – purchased by Mercury at a Sotheby’s auction – attracted £92,250, 14 times its estimate.

Lot 35, Cartier London, 'Queen Number 1' gold brooch, 1975

Lot 35, Cartier London, ‘Queen Number 1’ gold brooch, 1975

Art

Mercury was an avid art collector, and the last work he ever bought – James-Jacques Tissot’s Types of Beauty, Portrait of Mrs Kathleen Newton – sold for £482,600. Elsewhere, the jewel in the crown of Mercury’s woodblock print collection, Utagawa Hiroshige’s Sudden Shower over Shin-Ohasi, sold for £292,100. Pablo Picasso’s Jaqueline au chapeau noir, 1962, which hung in Mercury’s kitchen, sold for £190,500. And a beloved blue vase – created by René Lalique, who Mercury was very fond of, along with her New Bond Street store – sold for £82,550.

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Discover more at sothebys.com