Freddie Mercury’s green garden door sells for more than £400,000 as auction attracts huge bids

Victorian-style silver snake bangle sells for whopping £698,500

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 07 September 2023 07:01 BST
Related: Queen and George Michael perform at Freddie Mercury tribute concert

A graffiti-laced door from Freddie Mercury's garden lodge and a prized piano that he used to compose his famous songs were among the personal items belonging to the flamboyant rock star sold for more than £12.2m on Wednesday.

The auction opened with the sale of a green door outside Mercury's Kensington home covered in hand-painted notes from fans who made a pilgrimage to the house. It was sold for £412,750 pounds in a bidding war that lasted nearly 20 minutes.

Door to Freddie Mercury’s London home (Screengrab/ Sotheby's)

"The high brick walls acted as a shield from prying eyes and the main exterior door, a gateway to the star’s life away from the spotlight," Sotheby's said.

With passing years, the door became an icon amongst monuments of popular culture in London, the auction house added.

A Victorian-style silver snake bangle Mercury wore with an ivory satin catsuit in a video for the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" set a record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a piece of jewelry owned by a singer.

The bracelet was sold for £698,500 — at least 100 times its estimated low price, breaking the record of John Lennon’s leather and bead talisman, which was sold for £295,000 in 2008.

The eclectic collection of objects were reportedly 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".

Freddie Mercury's signature crown and cloak ensemble, worn throughout Queen's 1986 'Magic' Tour (AFP via Getty Images)

Other items connected with the band's most popular hit, such as hand-written lyrics to the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" went under the hammer for about £1.4m and a gold Cartier brooch saying "Queen number 1" went for £165,000.

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.

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A mere 59 items of that "clutter" sold for £12.2m, 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.

The Yamaha baby grand piano used to write some of the band's greatest hits was sold for less than its estimated price tag, but still raised £1.7m. It was the highest price ever paid for a composer's piano, Sotheby's said without providing information on the previous record.

A Yamaha G2 Baby Grand Piano – which was used by Freddie Mercury to develop the track Bohemian Rhapsody (PA Wire)

One of the quirkier items, a silver moustache comb from Tiffany & Co, that had been expected to set a buyer back £400-600 had a bid at £35,000.

Other items that were treasured by fans were Mercury's draft lyrics to "Somebody to Love" (£241,000), "Don't Stop Me Now" and "We Are the Champions", which both fetched the same final prices: £317,500.

A Cartier onyx and diamond ring given to Mercury by his friend Elton John was sold for £273,000. The proceedings were to go to the "Rocket Man" singer's AIDS charity.

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.

Publicity from "Freddie Mercury: A World of his Own" drove up bidding for online auctions that began last month and closes next week. Even items being sold online that had seemed like they might be in reach for some average buyers eclipsed pre-sale estimates.

A collection of chopsticks once estimated to fetch £40-60 had a current bid £1,200 on Wednesday.

With agency inputs

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