Here are five lots that stood out in the Sotheby’s sale of items belonging to Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in London on Wednesday.
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Mercury composed many of Queen’s songs, starting with the global hit “Bohemian Rhapsody”, on his treasured Yamaha G2 baby grand piano.
He bought it in 1975 for about £1,000 — £11,000 ($13,800) today, accounting for inflation — after weeks searching for a piano to match his ambitions, but small enough to fit into the living room of the flat he shared with close friend Mary Austin.
Austin, to whom Mercury bequeathed his estate and who is now selling the collection, said he treated the piano with “absolute respect”, never smoking at it or resting a glass on its pristine surface.
“He considered it to be more than an instrument, it was an extension of himself, his vehicle of creativity,” she added.
It was sold for £1,742,000 ($2,198,927).
In Mercury’s west London home, it was mostly paired with his “favourite piano stool” — a silk-upholstered satinwood two-seater dating from the 1920s-1930s, which he had bought in 1977 from upmarket department store Harrods.
The stool is being auctioned separately Friday, with bids already lodged for at least £8,500.
Mercury initially planned to call one of Queen’s most globally beloved and streamed songs — and the third best-selling UK single ever — “Mongolian Rhapsody”.
The revelation is detailed in 15 pages of lyrics and melodies, written in black and blue ink and pencil on stationery from the now-defunct British Midland Airways.
The songwriter at some point crossed out the word “Mongolian” and replaced it with “Bohemian”.
The pages — eight devoted to lyrics, seven to musical harmonies — fetched £1,379,000 ($1,740,712).
Crown and cloak
Mercury wore the signature outfit throughout Queen’s 1986 “Magic” tour, when the band sold out venues across Europe.
The British royal crown replica and a cloak in fake fur, red velvet and rhinestones, were made by his friend the costume designer Diana Moseley.
The imitation gold- and jewel-encrusted crown — with four dipped arches and red velvet cap trimmed with imitation ermine — resembles the St Edward’s crown used for the coronation of British monarchs.
The real version was donned by King Charles III at his crowning last September.
The 327-centimetre cloak cape, fastening at the neck with a gold-tone metal chain, was inspired by those used at Napoleon’s coronation.
Mercury wore the ensemble at the end of the tour’s final concert at Knebworth, England, on August 9, 1986 — his last on-stage Queen appearance.
It was purchased for £635,000 ($801,560)
Dating from 1964, the year Mercury’s Parsi Indian family fled Zanzibar for London due to revolution, a copy of “Poems of Spirit and Action” includes his teenage pencil notes on dozens of pages.
Inscribed with the name Fred Bulsara — Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara — his notes contain commentary and judgements on poems, word definitions as well as more “whimsical comments”.
It also features an original poem he composed titled “Bird (‘Feather flutter in the sky…’)”.
Offered in an online auction closing next Tuesday, it had been expected to fetch up to £1,200 but has already attracted a bid of £7,500.
Mercury kept a multicoloured, illuminated 1941 coin-operated Wurlitzer jukebox in his kitchen.
Housed in a walnut laminate-veneered case with yellow and red plastic panels and a glazed peacock panel front, it features bubbling tubes and chrome metal fretwork.
Despite no longer being in working order, it fetched £406,400 ($512,999).
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)