A Graffiti-Laced Door from His Kensington Home
One of the most surprising items that went under the hammer at Sotheby’s auction of Freddie Mercury’s personal belongings was a green garden door from his Kensington home, Garden Lodge. The door was covered in hand-painted notes from fans who made a pilgrimage to the house after the Queen frontman’s death in 1991. The door was sold for £412,750 in a bidding war that lasted nearly 20 minutes, far exceeding its estimated price of £25,000. The door was described by Sotheby’s as “a gateway to the star’s life away from the spotlight” and “an icon amongst monuments of popular culture in London”.
A Prized Piano and a Silver Snake Bangle
Another highlight of the auction was a Yamaha baby grand piano that Mercury used to write some of the band’s greatest hits, such as “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Are the Champions” and “Don’t Stop Me Now”.
The piano was sold for £1.74m, setting a record for the highest price ever paid for a composer’s piano. The piano was accompanied by a handwritten note from Mercury that read: “I love this piano. It has been good to me. I hope it will be good to you too.”
A Victorian-style silver snake bangle that Mercury wore with an ivory satin catsuit in the video for “Bohemian Rhapsody” also fetched a staggering £698,500, making it the most expensive piece of jewellery owned by a singer ever sold at auction. The bangle was expected to go for up to £9,000, but it sparked a fierce bidding war among collectors and fans. The bangle broke the previous record of John Lennon’s leather and bead talisman, which was sold for £295,000 in 2008.
More Than 1,400 Items from His London Home
The auction, which lasted for six days, featured more than 1,400 items from Mercury’s London home, Garden Lodge, which he left to his close friend Mary Austin when he died of AIDS-related pneumonia at the age of 45. The items ranged from furniture and artworks to costumes and memorabilia, reflecting Mercury’s eclectic taste and flamboyant personality. Some of the proceeds from the auction will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, but it is unclear how much.
The auction attracted more than 6,000 online viewers and bidders from 61 countries, who competed for a chance to own a piece of rock history. The auction raised a total of £12.2m, including a buyer’s premium, surpassing all expectations. However, not everyone was happy with the sale. Some fans and Mercury’s bandmate Brian May expressed their sadness and dismay at seeing his intimate personal effects and writings being dispersed forever. May wrote on Instagram: “I can’t look. To us, his closest friends and family, it’s too sad.”