More than 1,500 items from Freddie Mercury’s private collection, including costumes, unique objects and previously unseen handwritten draft lyrics, will be auctioned later this year, Sotheby’s announced on Wednesday.
The Queen frontman’s collection, which has been left largely untouched at his former west London home in the three decades since his death, will be exhibited publicly in the British capital for a month from August 4.
Prior to that in June, highlights from the ensemble will go on tour to New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, as well as London.
The vast array of items — spanning clothing, paintings, and objects from Mercury’s everyday life — will then go under the hammer in six London sales expected to fetch at least GBP6 million ($7.5 million).
They are being sold by Mary Austin, one of the icon’s closest friends, who has cared for them at his former home — Garden Lodge, in London’s upmarket Kensington district — ever since he died in 1991.
“I have had the joy and privilege of living surrounded by all the wonderful things that Freddie sought out and so loved,” she said in a statement released by Sotheby’s.
“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.”
Calling Mercury “an incredible and intelligent collector who showed us that there is beauty and fun and conversation to be found in everything”, Austin added the process would “celebrate his unique and beautiful spirit”.
The collection includes a replica of St Edward’s Crown — the real version of which will be used by King Charles III at next week’s coronation — worn by the star on stage in the 1980s.
Its accompanying cloak — in fake fur, red velvet and rhinestones — was made by the singer’s friend and costume designer Diana Moseley.
Mercury performed in both at the world-famous Live Aid concert in 1985 and the finale renditions of “God Save The Queen” during his last Queen tour in 1986. It is estimated to fetch up to GBP80,000.
Previously unseen handwritten lyrics to Queen’s “We Are The Champions”, one of the band’s best-known anthems, will also go on sale.
The draft lyrics, stretching over nine pages, are priced at GBP200,000 to GBP300,000.
Artworks by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, a century-old Faberge gem-set, nephrite and enamel desk clock, and an antique Japanese woodblock print are among other items to be offered.
“Freddie Mercury’s collection is a manifestation of one extraordinary man’s creativity, taste and unerring eye for beauty,” Sotheby’s David Macdonald said.
Austin will be donating a portion of the auctions’ proceeds to the Mercury Phoenix Trust — founded by fellow Queen members Brian May, Roger Taylor and their manager Jim Beach, to support HIV/Aids initiatives — and to the Elton John Aids Foundation.