From replica crowns to moustache combs, items from Freddie Mercury’s London home will go on a months-long exhibition this summer, followed by a highly-anticipated auction.
The Queen frontman’s Garden Lodge home in Kensington has remained an untouched shrine to the singer for over 30 years since he died in 1991. Now, his collection of more than 1,500 “splendid things” will be shown in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong from August 4 until September 5, marking what would have been Mercury’s 77th birthday.
The exhibition and sale are organised by Sotheby’s in collaboration with Mary Austin, Freddie Mercury’s lifelong friend to whom he left his home after his passing.
Speaking about the upcoming showings to the BBC, Austin said, “The collection takes you deeper within the individual and the man I knew…You see the spectrum of his taste.”
Among the items are nine pages of handwritten working lyrics to one of Queen’s most well-known songs, ‘We Are The Champions’, which include harmonies and chords. They are expected to sell for £200,000-£300,000.
A single sheet of paper with the unseen working lyrics to ‘Killer Queen’ is also among the collection and is expected to go for £50,000-£70,000.
Some of the most coveted items are a replica of St Edward’s Crown and its accompanying cloak made by the singer’s friend and costume designer Diana Moseley. Mercury wore the outfit during the famous Live Aid concert in 1985 and in the finale rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’ during his last tour with Queen in 1986.
The real crown is set to be worn by England’s King Charles III in his upcoming coronation. Mercury’s version and the fake fur, red velvet and rhinestones cloak are expected to fetch up to £80,000 at auction.
Mercury died of AIDS-related bronchial pneumonia, aged 45, with Austin by his side, along with his long-term partner, Irish-born hairdresser Jim Hutton. Austin and Mercury met when they were 19 and 24, respectively, and had been in a romantic relationship until Mercury came out to her in the mid-1970s. They remained close friends until his death.
Half of Mercury’s $75 million estate was left to Austin, along with the Garden Lodge mansion, where he died and Austin still resides.
© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.