Freddie Mercury's crown and coat also go under the hammer at Sotheby's
Photo: SUSANNAH IRELAND / REUTERS
In the evening, the six-day auction of thousands of Freddie Mercury's possessions in London began with a bang. A graffiti-sprayed garden door of the Queen frontman was auctioned for more than 400,000 pounds, as the »Guardian« reports.
Mercury, who died in 1991, bequeathed his house in Kensington and its contents to his close friend Mary Austin. More than 32 years after his death, Austin sells the household goods at Sotheby's auction house, with part of the proceeds going to charity.
The hammer for the garden door fell at a bid of £350,000. Including the fees, however, the buyer must pay a total of 412,750 pounds (481,101 euros) for the door.
The door is covered with scribbled tributes to Mercury from fans around the world. The auction house had only expected proceeds of up to £25,000 for them.
More than 6,000 people watched the auction on the Internet. Many were dismayed that Mercury's possessions, including his grand piano, were being auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Many of the first objects in the auction were sold for multiples of their catalogue price. These included a five-centimetre Fabergé casket with a list price of £6,000 to £8,000 that sold at auction for £95,250, a Tiffany table lamp that fetched £60,960, six times its list price, and an 1895 sideboard for £31,760.
A silver snake bangle worn by Mercury in the video for Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody sold for £698,500. The estimated value was about 9,000 pounds.
Harsh criticism from Brian May and fans
Mercury's Queen bandmate Brian May criticized the sale of the legacies. On the eve of the auction, he wrote on Instagram: "Tomorrow ... Freddie's most intimate personal belongings and writings, which were part of what we have shared for so many years, will go under the hammer to be slammed to the highest bidder and scattered forever. I can't look. It's too sad for us, his closest friends and family."
Freddie Mercury died in 1991 at the age of 45, just 24 hours after he confirmed he had AIDS and urged his fans to join "the fight against this terrible disease."
The auction is expected to raise a total of up to eleven million pounds (12.8 million euros). A portion of the proceeds will go to the Elton John Aids Foundation, but it's unclear how much.
Thomas Williams, a director of Sotheby's, told the Guardian: "Masses of people will be able to bid for a little piece of Freddie."
However, many of his fans disagreed, expressing their anger at the sale on social media.