Mary Austin makes eye-watering sum auctioning off Freddie Mercury personal items

Freddie Mercury exhibition opens at Sotheby’s

Back in April, out of the blue, Freddie Mercury’s former fianceé Mary Austin gave a rare interview with the BBC.

The woman who the late Queen singer left his Garden Lodge home and its contents to, announced she was ready to sell off everything at auction.

As for why now, the 72-year-old said: “I need to put my affairs in order. The time has come for me to take the difficult decision to close this very special chapter in my life.

“I decided that it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to keep things back. If I was going to sell, I had to be brave and sell the lot.”

An estimated taking of £6 million was expected to be made at the auction in total, with some proceeds being donated to the Mercury Phoenix Trust and the Elton John Aids Foundation. Yet the final total surpassed this amount by almost sevenfold.

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After a month of allowing the public to view the contents of Garden Lodge and Freddie Mercury’s personal possessions at Sotheby’s in London, the 1406 lots went up for auction. Following more than 41,800 bids, Freddie Mercury’s personal effects made £40 million in total, a new record for any collection of its kind. Almost 99 per cent of the lots sold for prices in excess of their high estimates with the Queen star’s Yamaha Grand Piano taking the most at £1.7 million; a record for a composer’s piano.

Some of the biggest surprises were quirky lots flying for well over their initial estimate. The most astounding here was Freddie’s personal Tiffany & Co Silver Moustache Comb, which was estimated at £400-600, but sold for a whopping £152,400. However, not everyone was a fan of the auction, with Sir Brian May publicly posting his sadness over it on his Instagram.

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Sir Brian lamented: “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.”

Perhaps one day some of the private collectors will come together to put some of the items on display for the public? Fans can only hope.

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