Late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury accumulated a variety of collectibles during his time as one of the greatest rock stars on Earth. Some of the items are quite valuable. Some just your average everyday trinkets. There’s Queen memorabilia, costumes, art and original lyrics notes. None of those items have been seen or touched in the three decades since Freddie’s death in 1991. They’ve remained in his former London mansion, under the watchful eye of Freddie’s one-time girlfriend and primary heiress, Mary Austin. Preliminary estimates of the total potential value of the auction is in the $7-10 million range. But that’s likely to end up being a very conservative estimate based on some similar sales of the last few years.
The collection includes everything from Fabergé clocks to Victorian-era paintings, plus valuable Queen memorabilia like Mercury’s original handwritten lyrics to several Queen classics, including “Killer Queen” and “We Are the Champions.”
Sotheby’s, which is handling the auction, is setting the initial bid for his “We Are the Champions” lyrics note at $250,000. The bidding will have to go quite a bit higher than that if the sale is going to break a price record in the field of original music manuscripts. Right now, that record belongs to Bob Dylan’s original lyrics for “Like a Rolling Stone,” which were sold to a collector for $2 million.
Whether the Mercury collection will outshine its presale estimates or not remains to be seen, with the bidding set to begin on September 6. But one positive indicator was seen last year, when a 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow that once belonged to Mercury hit the auction block. That car ended up selling for almost ten times its initial estimate at $355,000.
The auction will include about 1,500 pieces that belonged to habitual art collector Mercury and have been kept by his one-time fiancé and longtime friend Mary Austin at his home in London since his death in 1991. Most of the pieces have never been seen by the public, and in what is good news for fans of Mercury’s who might not have the funds to make a bid of their own, Sotheby’s has announced that the auction will coincide with an “immersive exhibit” recreating Mercury’s home and displaying his collection and other artifacts from his career.
At the time of his death in November 1991, Freddie Mercury’s net worth was worth was around $20 million. After adjusting for inflation, that’s the same as around $50 million today. He left the majority of his estate to Mary Austin, his one-time fiance. He left smaller amounts and shares to his parents, sister and even his personal chef and driver.
His 1991 net worth does not NOT include the value of his publishing and catalog rights which would presumably be worth hundreds of millions of dollars today. Those rights are currently owned in equal shares by Mary Austin and his three Queen bandmates Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor.
The auction will take place on September 6.