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Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie Mercury

Queen frontman Freddie Mercury's private collection from his estate will go under the block at Sotheby's in London in September. A peek into the never-seen-before glamorous collection of costumes, artifacts, and more, on his birthday

Published: Sep 4, 2023 06:41:27 PM IST
Updated: Sep 5, 2023 10:04:43 AM IST

As the frontman of the livewire band Queen, Freddie Mercury’s bold and provocative stage persona electrified countless fans around the world. Born as Farrokh Bulsara to Indian Parsi parents in Zanzibar, Freddie’s musical legacy is undisputed—Queen had more than 50 UK Top 40 hits across three decades. Now the fans are lining up at the doors of Sotheby’s in London to be taken into the private world of Freddie Mercury, thanks to Mary Austin, his soulmate who knew him best. The treasure trove of Freddie’s Garden Lodge home was left to Mary in his will when he passed in 1991. Mary, now in her 70s, has decided to put up the 30,000 items—oh, those fantastical outfits, the song draft scribbles, and that crown, fit for a Queen—for an auction that lays bare his personal taste and meticulous detail that crossed gender-defining borders. Here’s a glimpse of the items on show.

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Armando Gallo/Getty Images

Singer Freddie Mercury fronts Queen in concert on their ‘A Day at the Races’ tour at The Forum in Inglewood California on March 3, 1977. Freddie displayed a highly theatrical style that often evoked a great deal of participation from the crowd, teasing, shocking, and ultimately charming his audience with various extravagant versions of himself.

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: George Wilkes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A portrait of 20-year-old Tanzanian-born British musician Freddie Mercury in London, England, on January 1, 1967. Although he cultivated a flamboyant stage personality, Freddie was shy when not performing, particularly around people he did not know well. He once said of himself: "When I'm performing I'm an extrovert, yet inside, I'm a completely different man."

Also read: Sotheby's preparing to sell Freddie Mercury's private collection after exhibition

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Philip Dethlefs/picture alliance via Getty Images

A crown and a robe that Freddie Mercury wore on stage during the "Magic Tour", the very last Queen concert, in Knebworth in 1986, on display at the exhibition "Freddie Mercury - A World Of His Own" in Sotheby’s London, on August 3, 2023. Sotheby's is auctioning more than 1,400 items from the estate of the Queen frontman, which will be on public display until September 5, 2023.

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Philip Dethlefs/picture alliance via Getty Images

Personal items and luxury articles including a silver moustache comb, a diamond brooch designed as a feather, and other artifacts, from Freddie Mercury's collection.

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

Exquisite kimonos and costumes which are part of Freddie Mercury's personal collection, on display during a photo call at Sotheby's in London, ahead of the auction pn August 3, 2023.

Also read: Freddie Mercury - The definitive biography

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

A set of 20th-century Japanese painted clay figures which are part of Freddie Mercury's personal collection, on display during a photo call at Sotheby's in London, ahead of their auction, August 3, 2023.

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

Acquired in 1975, this Yamaha G2 baby grand piano was used by Freddie Mercury to develop and hone the classic track Bohemian Rhapsody. Seen here on display during a photo call at Sotheby's in London, ahead of its auction, August 3, 2023. At his Garden Lodge home, the piano was Freddie’s primary instrument, a hub of activity, around which everything from polishing a finished song to party singsongs, to more formal performances took place.

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A manuscript draft of lyrics for Mercury’s greatest song 'Bohemian Rhapsody’, circa 1974, was displayed during Sotheby's "Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own" press preview in New York, US, June 1, 2023.

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Philip Dethlefs/picture alliance via Getty Images

A painting ‘Young Boy Sitting on a Sofa’ by Geza Vastagh, among other objects of art and pieces of furniture from the estate of Freddie Mercury on display at the exhibition "Freddie Mercury - A World Of His Own" in Sotheby’s London, August 3, 2023.

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Philip Dethlefs/picture alliance via Getty Images

A gold breakfast service from the estate of Freddie Mercury on display in Sotheby’s, London, August 3, 2023.


Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Sotheby's

A glittering stage-worn scarlet sequinned short-legged one-piece stage suit worn on the 'News Of The World' Tour 1978, among other costumes worn by Freddie on display at Sotheby's on August 3, 2023.
 
Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A Wurlitzer Model 850 'Peacock' design jukebox by Paul Fuller, American, circa 1941, on display during a during a photo call at Sotheby's auction house on August 3, 2023.

Happy Birthday Queen: Inside the gender-expanding, sophisticated private world of Freddie MercuryImage: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Marked contact sheets from Queen’s iconic photoshoot from Freddie Mercury's never-before-seen private collection shown at Sotheby’s New York on June 1, 2023 before it all goes up for auction in London in September

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