Written by Amarachi Orie, CNN
Around 1,500 items that once belonged to the late British rock star Freddie Mercury are going up for auction, including never-before-seen handwritten draft lyrics to “We Are the Champions,” one of the band Queen’s most famous songs.
The objects are being offered for sale by Mary Austin, a close friend of Mercury, who inherited his estate.
In addition to draft song lyrics. the items in the sale will include: pink, star-shaped glasses similar to the dark pair Mercury wore in the music video for his band’s 1977 hit “We Will Rock You”; his tiny Tiffany & Co. mustache comb; his guitar, believed to have been used to write and record “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”; the waistcoat Mercury wore in his final music video, “These Are the Days of Our Lives,” in 1991; and a Pablo Picasso linocut titled “Jacqueline au chapeau noir.”
Mercury’s famous crown — thought to be loosely modeled on the crown King Charles III will wear at his coronation on May 6 — and his accompanying cloak are expected to sell for up to £80,000 ($100,000). The singer wore both for his rendition of “God Save The Queen” during his last tour with Queen, in 1986.
“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,” Austin said in a press statement released on Wednesday.
“Freddie was an incredible and intelligent collector who showed us that there is beauty and fun and conversation to be found in everything; I hope this will be an opportunity to share all the many facets of Freddie, both public and private, and for the world to understand more about, and celebrate, his unique and beautiful spirit,” she added.
In June, highlights of the exhibition showcasing Mercury’s possessions will go on tour to New York, London, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, Sotheby’s said in the release.
The items will then be displayed at Sotheby’s in London between August 4 and September 5.
The collection will be offered in live auctions on September 6, 7 and 8, supplemented by online auctions starting on August 31.
“As Sotheby’s is transformed into the stage for this remarkable collection, the focus will be as much on Freddie Mercury the showman, celebrating everything we already know about him, as on discovering his less well known private artistic passions,” Sotheby’s Europe chairman Oliver Barker said in the release, adding that the collection will be the “the longest, most spectacular, public exhibition in our company history.”
Mercury, whose original name was Farrokh Bulsara, was born in Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania) on September 5, 1946.
He was the front man and main songwriter for Queen, which was formed in 1971 and popularized by its fusion of heavy metal, glam rock and exaggerated theatrics.
The band’s mock-opera “Bohemian Rhapsody” was Britain’s top single for nine weeks following its release in 1975.
The 1977 hits “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You” remain major sporting anthems worldwide, and Queen’s performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert was voted the world’s greatest live gig of all time in a 2005 music industry poll.
Mercury died in London from AIDS-related complications on November 24, 1991, a day after announcing he had been diagnosed with the disease.