Prized piano Freddie Mercury composed Queen’s greatest hits on is champion at pricy auction

today09/11/2023 103

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LONDON (AP) — Freddie Mercury ‘s prized piano that he used to compose “Bohemian Rhapsody” and other hits by Queen sold for more than $2 million as some of the late singer’s massive collection of flamboyant stage costumes, fine art and original lyrics were auctioned in a sale that broke records.

Items connected to the operatic “Rhapsody,” the band’s most enduring hit, brought a premium Wednesday with hand-written lyrics to the song selling for about 1.4 million pounds ($1.7 million) and a gold Cartier brooch saying “Queen number 1” given to each band member by their manager after the song topped the charts, selling for 165,000 pounds ($208,000).

A Victorian-style silver snake bangle Mercury wore with an ivory satin catsuit in a video for the song — long before the days of MTV — set a record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a piece of jewelry owned by a rock star, Sotheby’s said.

The bracelet went for 698,500 pounds ($881,000) — 100 times its estimated low price. The item broke a record set when John Lennon’s leather and bead talisman sold for 295,000 pounds ($368,000) in 2008, Sotheby’s said.  The eclectic collection of objects were amassed by Mercury after Queen’s glam-rock produced an avalanche of hits that allowed the singer to achieve his dream of living a Victorian life “surrounded by exquisite clutter.”

Mercury’s close friend, Mary Austin, to whom he left his house and his possessions when he died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1991 at 45, is selling it all — more than 1,400 items.  A mere 59 items of that “clutter” sold for 12.2 million pounds ($15.4 million), including a buyer’s premium, that blew away estimates in the four-and-a-half hour auction. Bidders from 61 countries took part in person, online and by phone.

Depending how you looked at it, the champions of the night may have been Sotheby’s or Austin or a few charities she’s promised to donate an undisclosed portion of the proceeds to.

For the past month, fans of Mercury who couldn’t afford those kind of prices — or just wanted to see his high-top Adidas, diamond brooches, or a sequined jacket — could view them for free in Sotheby’s galleries. More than 140,000 visitors from around the world queued up outside the elegant auction house to take a tour.  Publicity from “Freddie Mercury: A World of his Own” drove up bidding for online auctions that began last month and closes next week.

The Yamaha baby grand piano that Mercury wrote some of Queen’s greatest hits on was one of the few items that sold for less than its estimated price tag, though it still sold for the most amount of money.  It had been expected to sell for as much as 3 million pounds ($3.75 million) but sold for 1.7 million pounds ($2.2 million). Sotheby’s said it was the highest price ever paid for a composer’s piano, but they didn’t provide information on the previous record.

The song ends with the words: “Nothing really matters to me,” a line that certainly didn’t apply to the way Mercury — and some of his wealthy fans — felt about his possessions.

Source: AP – All contents copyright 2023 Associated Press.  All rights reserved.


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