Europe 1 with AFP // Photo credit: JEAN-CLAUDE COUTAUSSE / AFP 14:42 pm, September 06, 2023

Stage costumes, instruments, paintings and even the manuscript of "Bohemian Rapsody"... Several thousand objects that belonged to Freddie Mercury, leader of the mythical group Queen, which are auctioned at Sotheby's Wednesday evening in London. Part of the profits will be donated to foundations fighting AIDS.

Manuscripts of Queen's hits, furniture, paintings, trinkets, thousands of objects that belonged to Freddie Mercury, singer of the group with more than 300 million records sold, are sold at auction from Wednesday evening at Sotheby's, in London. Among the centerpieces of the sale, which will be followed by two other indoor auctions in addition to three online sales, the piano of the British singer who died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 45. Estimated between two and three million pounds sterling (2.3 - 3.5 million euros), this quarter tail Yamaha was bought in 1975 by Freddie Mercury. He composed almost all of his works there after its acquisition.

The door of Mercury's house for sale

Also on sale are the manuscripts of Queen's greatest hits, including that of "Bohemian Rhapsody". The 15 pages written in pencil and ballpoint pen reveal the different directions envisaged by the artist for this title which was originally to be called "Mongolian Rhapsody". All of the items for sale were in Freddie Mercury's house, Garden Lodge, in west London. The door of the property, green and saturated with graffiti of fans especially after his death, is also to buy. The whole thing is put up for sale by Mary Austin, a close friend with whom he was even engaged for a time, whom Freddie Mercury had made his heiress.

"Mary Austin lived with the collection" and "cared for it for more than three decades" at Garden Lodge where she lived, Gabriel Heaton, a book and manuscript specialist at Sotheby's, said last month. "Freddie Mercury" was not interested in having a museum of his life, but he loved auctions", to the point of being a regular at Sotheby's. Mary Austin thinks the artist would have "loved" the sale, he continued.

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The man behind the artist

Under the hammer of the London auction house, whose facade has been adorned for the occasion with a huge mustache, 1,469 lots will be auctioned, according to Sotheby's. In addition to the artist, they also tell the story of the man Freddie Mercury, his passion for cats, Japan - as evidenced by his collections of kimonos and prints - his taste for receptions. The contents of his wardrobe will also change hands, his most flamboyant stage costumes, his Hawaiian shirts, his Superman tank top.

In the Spring of 1975, during the first of many visits while on tour, Freddie Mercury fell in love with Japan.

His sensitivity to Japan was expressed through his extensive collecting of Japanese art and his many visits to the country.

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— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) September 1, 2023

Also available are lots of photos, from Freddie Mercury's personal polaroids to Mick Rock's shots, but also bottles from his cellar, such as Dom Pérignon champagne, bottled in 1978, or magnum from 1985. There are also more intimate objects, such as this collection of poetry annotated by his hand when he was a teenager, a mustache comb, more playful too, like a set of games including a travel Scrabble, to which the rocker was a formidable player.

A sale for the benefit of the fight against AIDS

Before being scattered, the collection was gathered during a month-long free exhibition at Sotheby's in London, which welcomed more than 130,000 visitors according to the auction house. In April, when the auctions were announced, Sotheby's estimated that they would bring in at least 6 million pounds (more than 6.7 million euros). Proceeds will be donated in part to the Mercury Phoenix Trust and Elton John Aids Foundation, two organizations involved in the fight against AIDS.

A choice that would have "put a smile on Freddie's face," Elton John said in a statement from the auction house. According to Sotheby's, it is the largest collection, by volume, of a superstar or cultural icon since the Elton John sale in 1988, when 2,000 lots were sold for a total of £4.8 million.