In a historic moment, Sotheby’s London recently concluded its month-long exhibition and six-day auction of Freddie Mercury’s personal possessions, collectively titled “Freddie Mercury: A World of his Own.”
This spectacular event brought together over 1,400 items from the legendary Queen frontman’s London residence, Garden Lodge. The results were nothing short of astonishing, showcasing the enduring love and admiration for Freddie Mercury and his music.
The Phenomenal Sales and Exhibition
The auction series, comprising six sales, exceeded all expectations by achieving a staggering £40 million (approximately $50.4 million). This remarkable figure far surpassed the initial estimate of £7.6-11.3 million, clearly demonstrating the profound impact of Freddie Mercury’s legacy. Almost 99% of the lots sold exceeded their high estimates, with a record-breaking 41,800 bids placed across the sales, including 27,100 bids made online.
The global reach of Mercury’s fan base was evident, with bidders from an astounding 76 countries participating in the auctions. Notably, the most fervent interest hailed from areas where Mercury’s influence was most profound, such as the UK, North America, Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia, Mexico, and Brazil. Remarkably, over 85% of bidders and buyers were first-time participants at Sotheby’s, underlining the universal appeal of the iconic musician.
Each lot witnessed fierce competition, with an average of 13 bidders vying for the items, showcasing the deep connection fans still hold with Freddie Mercury and his memorabilia. Numerous records were shattered during the auctions, including those for a composer’s piano, gold discs awarded for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and a piece of jewellery belonging to a rockstar.
Global Admiration and Recognition
The global fascination with Freddie Mercury was highlighted by the over 150,000 visitors who flocked to the exhibitions worldwide, travelling from as far as Japan, the Americas, and Europe. These exhibitions allowed fans to get an intimate glimpse into Mercury’s life, adding a personal touch to the already monumental event.
The online presence of the Freddie Mercury sale was equally impressive, with over 680,000 people visiting Sotheby’s website to explore the collection. The social media campaign, tagged with #TheWorldofFreddieMercury, reached an astonishing 9.4 million individuals, while a TikTok video detailing the bidding battle for the “Bohemian Rhapsody” bangle garnered 4.8 million views and counting.
Numerous buyers and bidders shared their heartfelt connections with Freddie Mercury and the collection:
- Rafael Reisman from Brazil, who acquired a significant number of items, expressed his enduring admiration for Queen and Freddie Mercury. He emphasized how Mercury’s legacy belongs not just to London but to the entire world.
- A Japanese buyer shared his cherished memory of meeting Freddie Mercury in Japan and his delight in acquiring handwritten working lyrics to his favourite songs, “We Are The Champions” and “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
- Becca Robbins from the UK, who sported a handmade replica of Mercury’s iconic jacket, fondly recalled her moment in the spotlight at the live auction and the electric atmosphere of the event.
- Chris Evans, during his Virgin Radio show, highlighted the priceless nature of nostalgia, emphasizing that its value is immeasurable.
- Phil Copping, a Freddie Mercury impersonator and lead singer of Supersonic Queen, expressed his gratitude for the respectful presentation of the collection and how it has contributed to perpetuating Mercury’s legacy.
10 Quirky Items That Exceeded Expectations
Several lots at the auction exceeded their estimated values by significant margins, showcasing the fervour of collectors and fans:
- Tiffany & Co. Silver Moustache Comb: £152,400 (est. £400-600)
- Asprey of London Garden Lodge Dining Book: £44,450 (est. £1,000-1,500)
- Neon Telephone: £40,640 (est. £2,000-3,000)
- Motley Group of 29 Feline Ornaments: £30,480 (est. £300-500)
- Puss n Boots’ Cookie Jar: £9,525 (est. £80-120)
- Cartier Onyx and Diamond Ring (Donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation): £273,050 (est. £4,000-6,000)
- Ephemera Relating to Mercury’s Birthday Parties (1977-86): £27,940 (est. £500-700)
- Maple Bar with Pink Marble Top: £120,650 (est. £6,000-9,000)
- Japanese Wallet Containing Mercury’s Membership Cards: £35,560 (est. £50-80)
- Rare Surviving School Book: £69,850 (est. £800-1,200)
10 Most Valuable Lots
The top 10 most valuable lots sold at the auctions showcased the depth of collectors’ passion for Freddie Mercury:
- Yamaha Grand Piano (1973): £1.7m
- Autograph Manuscript Draft Lyrics for “Bohemian Rhapsody” (c. 1974): £1.4m
- Silver Snake Bangle: £698,500
- Signature Crown and Cloak: £635,000
- James-Jacques Tissot’s Portrait of Mrs Kathleen Newton: £482,600
- Ceremonial Military-style Jacket: £457,200
- Chinoiserie Grand Piano: £444,500
- The Garden Lodge Door: £412,750
- 1941 Wurlitzer Jukebox: £406,400
- Notebook with Autograph Manuscript Lyrics for Songs in the Album, “Jazz” (c. 1978): £330,200
Freddie Mercury’s unparalleled influence and enduring legacy continue to captivate hearts around the world, as witnessed by the astounding success of the Sotheby’s auction. The extraordinary prices and passionate bidders are a testament to the timeless appeal of this musical icon, whose memory lives on through his music and personal treasures.
Tags: #TheWorldofFreddieMercury, Becca Robbins, Bohemian Rhapsody, Chris Evans, Freddie Mercury, garden lodge, James-Jacques Tissot, Kathleen Newton, Phil Copping, Queen, Rafael Reisman, SOTHEBY’S, Sotheby’s London, Supersonic Queen, Tiffany & Co., TikTok, Virgin Radio