Once Queen frontman and global superstar Freddie Mercury (1946-91) moved in to his beautiful, light-filled Georgian-style brick villa in 1980 he began filling it with his art collection and possessions.
Garden Lodge in Kensington, west London, was originally built for an artist and his sculptor wife in the early 20th century and when Mercury called it home he packed it full of theatre: richly furnished with works of art on all the walls.
For 30 years, this picture-perfect home remained almost entirely as he left it.
But now his extensive collection, from Victorian paintings and works on paper, to glass and fabrics, will be offered in a series of auction at Sotheby’s in September.
This August the 1500 lots will fill Sotheby’s 16,000sq ft London gallery space ahead of the planned auctions. A sequence of specially designed galleries, each one devoted to a different aspect of Mercury’s life, will feature in the month-long exhibition which will open on August 4 and close on what would have been Mercury’s 77th birthday, September 5.
The collection is being sold by Mary Austin, former girlfriend and one of Mercury’s closest friends.
Austin said: “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.
“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 to me to do this in a way that I felt Freddie would have loved, and there was nothing he loved more than an auction.”
Austin will be donating a portion of the proceeds of the sale to both the Mercury Phoenix Trust and the Elton John Aids Foundation.
The six dedicated auctions are led by an evening sale on September 6, followed by further live auctions on September 7-8, with three online auctions alongside. The auction will be accompanied by a limited-edition Collection Book.
Lifelong appreciation of art
Sotheby’s said Freddie Mercury’s early training as an artist in graphic art and design at Ealing Art School informed his lifelong love and appreciation of art. He also studied fashion and, in his early days, made a living from selling vintage clothes and textiles at a market stall. Another great passion was Japan.
The hit song Mongolian Rhapsody
Among the lots to be offered are handwritten lyrics to some of Queen’s most famous songs including Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Stop Me Now and We Are The Champions.