Among the centerpieces of Wednesday's sale, which will be followed by two more indoor auctions in addition to three online sales, is 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.

Queen singer Freddie Mercury on stage during a concert in Paris on September 18, 1984 © JEAN-CLAUDE COUTAUSSE / AFP/Archives

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".

These auctions will see a succession of paintings that adorned the interior of the legendary rocker: works by Chagall, Dali, Picasso, as well as the last painting bought by the artist, a month before his death, an oil on canvas by James Jacques Joseph Tissot.

Mustache comb

All of the items for sale were in Freddie Mercury's house, Garden Lodge, in west London.

Freddie Mercury's piano photographed during a press presentation in London on August 3, 2023 before the Sotheby's © Daniel LEAL auction / AFP/Archives

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, told AFP 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.

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 collection of kimonos and prints - his taste for receptions.

Freddie Mercury's phone photographed during a press presentation in London on August 3, 2023 before a Sotheby's © Daniel LEAL auction / AFP/Archives

From the cellar to the attic

The contents of his wardrobe will also change hands, his most flamboyant stage costumes, his Hawaiian shirts, his Superman tank top.

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.

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.

The crown and cape worn by Freddie Mercury during his "Magic" tour with Queen in 1986, photographed during a press presentation in London on August 3, 2023 © Daniel LEAL / AFP / Archives

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.

© 2023 AFP