Freddie Mercury’s jewels to be sold at Sotheby’s auction

A record-breaking Sotheby's exhibition of personal items once owned by Freddie Mercury will now be followed by six auctions, with precious objects, including his bejewelled crown and cloak, being offered for sale

By Kim Parker

Following a month-long exhibition that drew record-breaking crowds of over 130,056 visitors, Sotheby’s will auction a never-before-seen collection of items once owned by Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury.

The culmination of a world tour which saw highlights of the 1,400-piece-strong collection travelling to New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, the specially-designed interactive exhibition provided a chance for music lovers and curious collectors to glimpse Mercury’s artefacts up close before they go under the auctioneer’s hammer.

Freddie Mercury with Mary Austin, 1986. Image credit: Dave Hogan, Hulton Archive, Getty Images.

Left almost untouched for three decades, the contents of the singer’s former home – Garden Lodge in Kensington, West London – are now being offered for sale by Mercury’s long-time friend, Mary Austin, who has cared for the house and its possessions since his untimely passing in 1991.

“For many years now, I have had the joy and privilege of living surrounded by all the wonderful things that Freddie sought out and so loved,” said Ms. Austin. “But the years have passed, and the time has come for me to take the difficult decision to close this very special chapter in my life. It was important for me to do this in a way that I felt Freddie would have loved, and there was nothing he loved more than an auction. Freddie was an incredible and intelligent collector who showed us that there is beauty and fun and conversation to be found in everything; I hope this will be an opportunity to share all the many facets of Freddie, both public and private, and for the world to understand more about, and celebrate, his unique and beautiful spirit.”

This gold Cartier brooch, with the words ‘Queen Number 1’ was a gift to Freddie Mercury from Elton John and is expected to fetch between £4,000 – £6,000

Entitled “Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own”, the contents of the exhibition will now make up six dedicated auctions, led by a live evening sale on 6th September 2023, with two further live auctions to follow on 7th and 8th September 2023, and three online auctions running until 13th September 2023. A limited-edition Collection Book will also accompany the sale, commemorating the life of one of the world’s most iconic entertainers and the objects that made him smile.

Alongside treasures such as Mercury’s handwritten song manuscripts and a rhinestone-studded crown – a replica of St. Edward’s Crown worn by King Charles III at his coronation – donned by the singer at Queen’s final concert at Knebworth in 1986, will be a selection of gold and silver jewels. These include a gold Cartier brooch with the words “Queen Number 1” which was a gift from Elton John, and a silver mustache comb crafted by Tiffany & Co which would have fitted into the singer’s wallet.

A Tiffany & Co mustache comb owned by Freddie Mercury
A Tiffany & Co. silver moustache comb owned by Freddie Mercury, which is being offered with a reserve of £400-£600.

Also included in the sale will be a classic jewels from Fabergé, such as a gem-set, nephrite and enamel desk clock, which Mercury bought from Sotheby’s in Switzerland and had pride of place in his bedroom, plus a gold-mounted agate vesta case created in Moscow around 1890. Mercury was also a fan of Cartier desk clocks, with a nephrite and coral timepiece and a bejewelled rock crystal and enamel Art Deco timekeeper both being offered for auction.

Jewellery lovers and collectors may also be fascinated by the flexible silver snake bangle worn by Freddie Mercury in 1975 for the Bohemian Rhapsody video (estimated at £7,000 – £9,000), a mid-century diamond feather brooch (yours for roughly £15,000) or a clutch of sparkling cocktail rings crafted from onyx, gold and coloured diamonds.

A Cartier diamond ring once owned by Freddie Mercury
An onyx, gold and diamond Cartier ring once owned by Freddie Mercury, which is being offered with an estimate of £4,000 – £6,000.

Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe said of the sale, “Freddie Mercury’s sensational life has left us with a rich array of artistic moments that still move and astound us, a legacy that, like his music, will live on forever….Fittingly lavish in scale, the auction will bring together the expertise of specialists from 30 different collecting categories…all culminating in the longer, most spectacular, public exhibition in our company history. How else could we celebrate the legend that is Freddie Mercury?”

A fitting farewell, perhaps, to the singer who once exclaimed, “I like to be surrounded by splendid things. I want to lead the Victorian life, surrounded by exquisite clutter.”

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