The private collection of art, artefacts and music-related memorabilia belonging to late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury is to be exhibited at four locations around the globe this summer, before being auctioned in September.
The collection has remained at Mercury's former West London residence since his death in 1991, looked after his longtime friend Mary Austin, who has decided to open up the collection to the public before auctioning it off. A portion of the funds raised will be set aside for the Mercury Phoenix Trust and the Elton John Aids Foundation.
"For many years now, I have had the joy and privilege of living surrounded by all the wonderful things that Freddie sought out and so loved," says Austin. "But the years have passed, and the time has come for me to take the difficult decision to close this very special chapter in my life.
"It was important to me to do this in a way that I felt Freddie would have loved, and there was nothing he loved more than an auction. Freddie was an incredible and intelligent collector who showed us that there is beauty and fun and conversation to be found in everything; I hope this will be an opportunity to share all the many facets of Freddie, both public and private, and for the world to understand more about, and celebrate, his unique and beautiful spirit."
Among the items that will be exhibited before being auctioned are Mercury's iconic crown and cloak (estimated to fetch £60,000–80,000), the Martin D-35 Acoustic Guitar believed to be used in the composition and recording of Queen's 1979 hit Crazy Little Thing Called Love (£30,000–50,000), the singer's favourite waistcoat – last seen in the video for 1991's These Are The Days Of Our Lives, the last he shot with the band (£5,000–7,000) – and sets of handwritten lyrics for the classics Killer Queen (£50,000–70,000) and We Are The Champions (£200,000–300,000).
For purchasers with even deeper pockets, Mercury's original art for Type of Beauty by French painter and illustrator James Jacques Tissot is estimated to sell for £400,000–600,000, while the less extravagant end of the collection includes a silver Tiffany & Co. moustache comb (£400–600) and the vintage bakelite rotary telephone Mercury kept beside his bed (£2,000–4,000).
Elsewhere you'll find Victorian paintings, examples of the glass maker’s art, a number of fabrics and fine works Mercury collected on trips to Japan, and a Fabergé gem-set, nephrite and enamel desk clock. And a partridge in a pear tree, probably.
The full catalogue, as well as a collection book, is available at the Sotheby's website.
The full exhibition of Mercury's collection will take place at Sotheby's in London between August 4 and September 5 this year, preceded by a touring exhibition of sale highlights, which will visit New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. The auction calendar will comprise six themed events: three live sales in London, followed by three online sales. Full details below.
"Freddie Mercury’s sensational life has left us with a rich array of artistic moments that still move and astound us, a legacy that, like his music, will live on forever," says Sotheby's Europe Chairman Oliver Barker. "As Sotheby’s is transformed into the stage for this remarkable collection, the focus will be as much on Freddie Mercury the showman, celebrating everything we already know about him, as on discovering his less well known private artistic passions.
"Fittingly lavish in scale, the auction will bring together the expertise of specialists from 30 different collecting categories, and see exhibitions held in four locations across three continents - all culminating in the longest, most spectacular, public exhibition in our company history. How else could we celebrate the legend that is Freddie Mercury?"
Freddie Mercury Collection exhibition dates
Sotheby’s New York
Sotheby’s Los Angeles
Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Main Exhibition, Full Collection Sotheby’s London
August 4 – September 5
Freddie Mercy Collection auction dates
"The Evening Auction"
London Live Auction, 6 September, 5pm (ticketed event)
London Live Auction, 7 September, 12 noon
London Live Auction, 8 September, 12 noon
“In Love with Japan”
Online Auction, 1 – 11 September, 12 noon
“Crazy Little Things”
Part One Online Auction, 1 – 12 September, 12 noon
“Crazy Little Things”
Part Two Online Auction, 1 – 13 September, 12 noon