Held at Sotheby’s earlier this week (September 6), the auction saw handwritten lyrics for some of Queen’s most famous songs, jewellery worn by Mercury, and his collection of artwork go under the hammer.
The item that fetched the most at the auction house was the piano that Mercury used to compose the hit song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – a 1973 Yamaha Grand, which sold for £1.7million. This surpassed the amount that John Lennon’s piano, which he used to write ‘Imagine’, reached in a previous auction.
Ahead of the auction, May shared an old photo on Instagram of Mercury playing the guitar.
He wrote: “At the time this photo was taken I’m sure it didn’t seem very important to see Freddie’s fingers dancing on my own home-made guitar. Now it summons up waves of affection and great memories. He is so missed.”
Then he said of the auction: “Freddie’s most intimate personal effects, and writings that were part of what we shared for so many years, will go under the hammer, to be knocked down to the highest bidder and dispersed forever.
“I can’t look. To us, his closest friends and family, it’s too sad.”
Elsewhere at the Sotheby’s auction, other items from Mercury’s self-described collection of “exquisite clutter” included 15 pages of lyrics, including those for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. These were written on stationary for a defunct airline and revealed that the song was nearly titled ‘Mongolian Rhapsody’, with the frontman crossing out the first word and replacing it with “Bohemian”.
The singer died in 1991 of AIDS-related pneumonia. He was aged 45.
More items are set to be auctioned off and proceeds are expected to reach around £6million in total.
A portion of the proceeds from the auction will go to charity, and all of the money from the sale of a Cartier onyx and diamond ring – given to Mercury by Elton John – which sold for £273,000 will be donated to the Rocket Man singer’s AIDS charity.
Ahead of the auction, the items were put up for display in an exhibition named ‘Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own’, which attracted over 140,000 visitors in just over a month.