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Freddie Mercury's piano and Bohemian Rhapsody manuscript sold for gold at auction

Phones and bank cards overheated: Buyers around the world began bidding on Wednesday, September 6, hoping to afford manuscripts of Queen hits or works of art that belonged to Freddie Mercury, offered for sale at Sotheby's in London.

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Freddie Mercury's piano and Bohemian Rhapsody manuscript sold for gold at auction

Phones and bank cards overheated: Buyers around the world began bidding on Wednesday, September 6, hoping to afford manuscripts of Queen hits or works of art that belonged to Freddie Mercury, offered for sale at Sotheby's in London. To the rhythm of We Will Rock You, the evening opened under the hammer of auctioneer Oliver Barker.

First lot to come up for sale, the door to Garden Lodge, Freddie Mercury's home in West London. Saturated with fan graffiti, the green door of the property was sold - including costs - for 412,750 pounds sterling (481,736 euros), pulverizing the estimate published by the auction house (between 15,000 and 25,000 pounds sterling).

Among the centerpieces of Wednesday's sale is the piano of the British singer who died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 45. This piano, on which he composed almost all of his work from Bohemian Rhapsody, was sold for 1.742 million pounds sterling (two million euros). The amount reached is lower than the estimate published by the auction house, between two and three million pounds sterling (between 2.3 and 3.5 million euros). This Yamaha quarter-grand was bought for a thousand pounds by Freddie Mercury in 1975. The instrument was treated by the musician with "absolute respect", according to Mary Austin, heiress of Freddie Mercury. More than an instrument, he saw it as "an extension of himself, his vehicle of creativity." A sign of respect if necessary, "he never smoked on the piano or left a glass on it" and ensuring that everyone else acted the same, according to Mary Austin, "the piano was always impeccable". In Freddie Mercury's home, it was accompanied by a 1920s-1930s silk-trimmed two-seater stool that Freddie Mercury purchased in 1977 from Harrods. It must be sold on September 8.

Also on sale were the manuscripts of Queen's greatest hits, including that of "Bohemian Rhapsody". This manuscript, written by the hand of Freddy Mercury, was sold to him for 1.3 million pounds sterling (1.6 million euros), including costs. These 15 pages in pencil and ballpoint pen on paper with the image of a now defunct airline, "British Midland Airways", reveal the process of creating this title, which could have been called Mongolian Rhapsody. Sotheby's had published an estimate between 800,000 and 1.2 million pounds sterling (930,000 to 1.4 million euros).

These auctions will see a succession of paintings that adorned the interior of the legendary rocker: works by Chagall, Dali, Picasso, as well as the last painting purchased by the artist, a month before his death, an oil on canvas by James Tissot .

The set is being sold by Mary Austin, a close friend to whom he was even once engaged and whom Freddie Mercury had made his heiress. "Mary Austin lived with the collection" and "looked after it for more than three decades" at Garden Lodge where she lived, Gabriel Heaton, book and manuscript specialist at Sotheby's, told AFP last month.

"It did not interest" Freddie Mercury "to have a museum of his life, but he loved auctions", to the point of being a regular at Sotheby's, he had specified. Under the hammer of the London auction house, a total of 1,469 lots were to be auctioned, according to Sotheby's. In addition to the artist, they also tell the man that was Freddie Mercury, his passion for cats, Japan - as evidenced by his collection of kimonos and prints -, his taste for receptions.

The contents of his wardrobe will also change hands, his most flamboyant stage costumes, his Hawaiian shirts or his Superman tank top. In these pieces we find the crown and the cape that the singer wore during The Magic Tour. The crown, with its four arches, purple velvet cap and faux ermine, is designed to resemble that of St Edward's used at the coronation of British monarchs. The cape, with its fleur-de-lis, 3.27 meters long, is inspired by those of Napoleon's coronation. The set was worn by Freddie Mercury at the time of Brian May's God Save The Queen which concluded each concert of this tour, which was the last of the group with its singer, until its last appearance on stage, August 9, 1986. The lot sold for 635,000 pounds (740,000 euros), greatly exceeding the estimate of between 60,000 and 80,000 pounds sterling (70,000 to 93,000 euros). Lots of photos are also offered, but also bottles from his cellar, such as Dom Pérignon champagne, in a 1978 bottle, or in a 1985 magnum.

Among the lots that have found a buyer, there is also a magnificent Wurlitzer jukebox from 1941 that the singer had bought for the kitchen of his house, is loaded with 24 78 rpm records such as “Hallelujah I Love Her So” by Ray Charles, “Rit It Up” by Little Richard and “Shake, Rattle and Roll” by Bill Haley. Estimated between 15,000 and 25,000 pounds sterling (17,000-29,000 euros), it was sold for 406,400 pounds sterling (413,800 euros).

A collection of poetry annotated by the singer when he was a teenager is also part of the goods put up for sale. It is estimated between 800 and 1200 pounds sterling (between 925 and 1390 euros) and offered during an online sale which ends on September 12. There are also more intimate objects, such as a mustache comb; fun too, like a set of games including a travel Scrabble, of which the rocker was a formidable player. Before being scattered, the collection was assembled during a free month-long exhibition at Sotheby's in London, which welcomed 140,000 visitors according to the auction house.

In April, when the auction was announced, Sotheby's estimated that it would bring in at least 6 million pounds (more than 6.7 million euros). Profits will be partly donated to the Mercury Phoenix Trust and Elton John foundations Aids Foundation, two organizations involved in the fight against AIDS.

According to Sotheby's, it is the largest collection, by volume, of a superstar or cultural icon since the Elton John sale in 1988, when 2,000 lots sold in total for £4.8 million.

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