Auction rooms are hardly unfamiliar with excitement, but what unfolded at Sotheby’s London on the 6th of September was more akin to a stadium rock concert than an evening of measured bids and paddles. For the first time ever, a collection of Freddie Mercury’s personal possessions went under the hammer, sending bidders and Queen fans alike into a frenzy of anticipation and bidding.
Packed to the rafters with Mercury fanatics, the atmosphere was electrified when an impromptu rendition of ‘We Will Rock You’ filled the room. And rock it did; the auction not only saw a 100% sale rate across all lots but also obliterated expectations by clocking a total of £12.2 million, more than doubling the pre-sale high estimate.
The Show Must Go On (And It Did)
Distinguished by a slate of 1,400 personal objects owned by the Queen frontman, the auction was titled Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own. The items on sale ranged from Mercury’s handwritten lyrics to rare artworks and even furniture. Among the standouts was Mercury’s cherished Yamaha Baby Grand Piano, the stage for compositions like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Somebody to Love.’ The piano sold for a staggering £1.7 million, setting a new record.
Another jaw-dropper was a pair of handwritten working lyrics for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ selling for an almost unimaginable £1.4 million. Even Mercury’s fashion statements weren’t left behind. His iconic crown and cloak ensemble, worn during Queen’s last live performance at Knebworth in 1986, sold for a royal £635,000.
But the surprises weren’t confined to big-ticket items. A silver snake bangle, flaunted by Mercury in the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ music video, went for 100 times its initial estimate, fetching £698,500. Another astounding moment came when a Cartier ring, a gift from Elton John to Mercury, saw its hammer price soar to £273,050—its proceeds going to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The Sotheby’s event caught the attention of 2,000 registered bidders from a record 61 countries. With online bids pouring in from all corners of the globe, this was a tribute to Mercury’s universal appeal and enduring legacy.
Sotheby’s Chairman for Europe, Oliver Barker, called it a “once-in-a-lifetime privilege,” and David Macdonald, Head of Single Owner Sales at Sotheby’s London, echoed this sentiment. Macdonald, who once stepped into Freddie’s unchanged home, Garden Lodge, remarked, “We had a responsibility to all those who loved Freddie to do his collection justice.”
The numbers say it all: Over 140,000 visitors, higher daily attendance than any recent London show, and an all-time record for Sotheby’s. Freddie Mercury may have left the world stage almost three decades ago, but this blockbuster event proves that his showmanship, artistry, and magnetism continue to capture hearts, both old and new. In the words of the great man himself, ‘The Show Must Go On.’