Is there any more desirable totem of fandom than something the star themself once owned? Queen fans certainly don’t think so, if the turn out at the Freddie Mercury auction is any proof. According to the Sotheby’s website, 140,000 fans and bidders from 61 countries arrived at the Sotheby’s London New Bond Street location for the exhibition and white glove auction of the 59 lots. Many of the pieces sold for well above their estimated price, for a grand total of $15.4 Million USD—$8 million more than it was expected to reach, per Wall Street Journal.
The opening night’s 59 lot offering was only a small selection of Mercury’s 1500 piece estate, though it included many of the most notable pieces, including many sheets of handwritten lyrics, memorable costumes, and Japanese artwork from his extensive collection. Amidst the many winners of the auction, here are four of the top picks from the Freddie Mercury auction opening night.
A predictably sought after lot, Mercury’s draft of “Bohemian Rhapsody” lyrics written on 1974 British Midland Airways Timesaver stationery showcases his freeform approach to writing this uniquely freeform song. The seven pages of notes went for $1.7 million, $200,000 above Sotheby’s $1.5 million estimate, per Wall Street Journal.
Known as the Garden Lodge, Mercury purchased his Georgian-style home in London’s Kensington in 1980 and lived there until his death in 1991. The green door to that home was covered in goodbyes and well wishes by Mercury’s fans after his death, so as it stands today the door is covered in scrawls upon scrawls. Arguably one of the most iconic pieces in the auction, symbolizing both Mercury and the hordes of people who were so moved by him, the door sold for $521,104—more than 25 times its presale estimate by Sotheby’s.
A tense bidding battle ensued for Mercury’s piano, which he wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody” on. In the end, it sold for $2.2 million. Shockingly, this was well below the $2.49 to $3.7 million estimate from Sotheby’s.
Jacques Tissot’s 1879 portrait “Type of Beauty,” the last painting Mercury ever purchased, sold for $609,106. Compared to the many, many lots directly related to Mercury’s creations, it’s less obviously sentimental, though clearly stands as a testament to the art that fed his own work.