Freddy Mercury was a rock legend who sang his heart out in “Somebody to Love” as if he was composing a personal ad for love. However, he probably didn’t realize that while searching for someone to love, countless somebodies were already swooning over him. And that, my friends, was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt at the first of several auctions this week celebrating Mercury’s incredible life, work, and pure artistry. Most pieces sold for a Queen’s Ransom.
Mercury’s stash of over 1,400 personal treasures, neatly tucked away in his London home for three decades, is finally up for grabs at Sotheby’s. His ex-fiancé and confidant, Mary Austin, decided it was time to bid farewell to these gems.
The first of six auctions started on Wednesday with the crowd belting out “We Will Rock You,” followed by a 20-minute brawl (well, not literal fisticuffs, but you get the idea) for the first item: the graffiti-covered door of Mercury’s home. When the hammer finally came down, a phone bidder dropped half a million dollars on that doodled door! Remember, it was supposed to fetch a modest £15-25K, but it said, “Nah, I’m worth more!” and sold for £325K (£413K w/p – $521K).
The real rockstar of the show was Mercury’s trusty Yamaha baby grand piano, which helped create Queen’s greatest hits, including the timeless “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It ended up bringing in a cool £1.4M (£1.74M w/p – $2.2M), just a tad short of the estimated £2-3M, but still, that’s one heck of a piano.
Speaking of “Bohemian Rhapsody” (fun fact: it was once called “Mongolian Rhapsody”), Mercury’s handwritten lyrics made a princely sum of £1.1M (£1.38M w/p- $1.8M) on an estimate of £800K-1.2M. “We Are the Champions” lyrics grabbed £250K (£317.5M w/p – $401K), and the autographed draft lyrics to “Somebody to Love” won someone’s heart and emptied their pockets at £190K (£241K w/p – $305K).
And if that wasn’t enough, Mercury’s art collection turned heads too. A Picasso print snagged £150K (£190.5K w/p -$240k), which is way more than the estimate of £50-70K. A Joan Miró piece flew past its £15-20K estimate and sold for £70K (£89K w/p -$112K).
But wait, there’s more! The man’s iconic stage costumes were a hit as well. Mercury’s crown and cloak ensemble ended up selling for £500K (£635K w/p -$801,500). His rainbow jacket from the “Hot Space” tour earned a dazzling £160K (£203K w/p -$256K), way over its estimated worth of £10-15K.
Now, here’s the real shocker: a silver snake bangle from the “Bohemian Rhapsody” video went for nearly 100 times its estimated value of £7-9K, raking in a jaw-dropping £550K (£698.5K w/p – $882K). Sorry, John Lennon, you’ve been dethroned as the jewelry champ!
Lastly, a vintage Wurlitzer jukebox that still grooves like it’s the ’80s was estimated at £15-25K. It ended up fetching an astonishing £320K (£406.4K w/p -$513,000). It’s got all of Mercury’s favorite tunes, including classics by Ray Charles and Little Richard. So, in the end, Freddie’s stuff rocked the auction world like only he could.
And to cap it all off, the final tally blew all expectations out of the water. Sotheby’s specialists predicted the entire six-sale series to bring in a maximum of £7.2M ($9M). But the first night’s sale alone hauled in a staggering £12.2M ($15.4M). So, I am sure when the grand finale takes place, we can confidently say that Freddy Mercury really hit some high notes, and the world is still singing along.