Freddie Mercury may have died 32 years ago, but the late Queen frontman can still generate plenty of buzz.
A Sotheby’s auction of the rock star’s personal possessions drew in big crowds and big bids in London on Wednesday evening. The sale, titled Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own, eclipsed its high estimate of $9 million (£7.2 million) to achieve a total of $15.4 million (£12.2 million).
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This was the first of six auctions dedicated to Mercury memorabilia that Sotheby’s will hold over the next month. Prior to the inaugural sale, nearly 140,000 fans passed through the Bond Street galleries to peruse 1,500 prized items before the hammer dropped. Some even came to the auction dressed as Mercury himself, creating the exuberant atmosphere of a rock concert.
Wednesday’s auction included 60 lots ranging from outlandish stage ensembles to blue-chip art to iconic instruments. Bidders from 61 countries pushed 93 percent of lots over their estimate. Many pieces hammered down for way beyond pre-sale estimates, too, signaling the enduring appealing British rocker.
The handwritten draft for the lyrics of “Bohemian Rhapsody” was one of the evening’s highlights, selling for approximately $1.7 million (£1.4 million). Mercury’s cherished 1973 Yamaha G2 baby grand was also a standout, sparking a dramatic bidding war between collectors before finally reaching about $2.2 million (£1.7 million).
Other star lots included a silver snake bangle worn by Mercury in the “Bohemian Rhapsody” video that sold for $870,000 (£698,500) and a crown and cloak he donned for the Magic tour that sold for $791,500 (£635,000) to a bidder in the room who literally jumped for joy upon securing them.
As the auction progressed, auctioneer Oliver Barker enjoyed some friendly banter with competing bidders. At one point, he invited a bidder who was interested in Urade Katsuhiko’s Swimming Carp screen to check if the piece would fit in their home. The bidding then moved swiftly upwards, with the lot sailing past its high estimate of $14,900 (£12,000) to finally reach a staggering $237,000 (£190,500).
The sale series continues this week, with auctions dedicated to the singer’s “On Stage” antics and life “At Home” taking place on September 7 and 8, respectively. In addition, three online sales will run alongside the live auctions. Happy bidding.
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