While the legendary frontman of Queen, Freddie Mercury, may have left this world in 1991, his remarkable legacy continues to captivate the hearts of fans worldwide. On a recent Wednesday, a selection of Mercury’s cherished possessions took center stage at a high-profile auction hosted by Sotheby’s in London. The star of the evening turned out to be a Yamaha baby grand piano, instrumental in the creation of many of Queen’s greatest hits, including the timeless classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The piano found a new home after an intense bidding war, selling for an impressive $2.2 million. Additionally, the handwritten lyrics for “Bohemian Rhapsody” garnered substantial attention, fetching a staggering $1.7 million, according to statements released by Sotheby’s.
Of particular note was the inclusion of the original notes for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” revealing its working title as “Mongolian Rhapsody.”
Despite the significant price tag attached to Mercury’s iconic piano, it fell slightly short of the initial pre-auction estimates provided by Sotheby’s. The auction house had initially projected a sale price ranging from $2.5 million to $3.8 million.
Another remarkable highlight of the evening’s proceedings was the sale of a Cartier onyx and diamond ring, a cherished gift from Elton John to Mercury. The ring soared to an astonishing $339,000, surpassing its estimated value by nearly 70 times. Elton John, unable to attend the event in person, penned a heartfelt letter that was read aloud by principal auctioneer Oliver Barker, expressing his enduring affection for Mercury. “I miss Freddie to this day,” John’s tribute stated. “He was a wonderful friend, more full of love and life than anyone I’ve ever met,” as reported by The Independent.
Among other coveted items, Mercury’s iconic crown and red clock ensemble commanded a hefty price of $791,000. Meanwhile, a snake bangle famously worn by the singer in the “Bohemian Rhapsody” music video exceeded expectations, achieving a remarkable $870,000, a figure that was a hundredfold over its original estimate, as reported by the Associated Press.
This auction marked the inaugural event in a series of six planned auctions featuring Mercury’s previously unseen private possessions. The glamorous evening began with a spirited rendition of Queen’s anthem “We Will Rock You” by assembled bidders, who savored champagne, according to a statement by Sotheby’s.
Mercury had bequeathed his entire estate to Mary Austin, his close confidante and first love. More than three decades following the legendary singer’s passing, Austin has made the decision to part with these cherished items, with a portion of the proceeds to be donated to the Mercury Phoenix Trust and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Ahead of the auction, Austin, who had safeguarded these treasures for over 30 years at Mercury’s former residence, Garden Lodge in London’s Kensington, explained her reasons for the sale in a Sotheby’s release. “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. 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,” Austin shared.
“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.”