Exhibition Review: Freddie Mercury - A World Of His Own

on Monday, September 04, 2023

Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own (Sotheby's, London) // Words: Saam Das

Freddie Mercury Sotheby's Exhibition Poster

On his 2007 UK number one single, Mika "tried a little Freddie", referencing the late and great Freddie Mercury - thanks to the latest exhibition at the world renowned Sotheby's in London, we all now get to 'try a little Freddie' too. Thousands of the former Queen frontman's personal possessions have been put on display, prior to being auctioned, in this incredible smorgasbord of memorabilia.

Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, Freddy Mercury's iconic status in British and worldwide music history has long since been secured since his passing at the age of just 45 in 1991. His personal collections, and indeed his Kensington 'Garden Lodge' abode, were entrusted to close friend Mary Austin, who has now opted to auction the items which chart his history from school days all the way through to global superstardom.

The fun starts from even before visitors have entered the galleries at Sotheby's, with its entrance on New Bond Street amusingly embellished by a moustache-esque addition to its door frame. The exhibition is vast - an Ivor Novello here, an MTV Music Video Award there, striking outfits, setlists, scrawled lyrics, Salvador Dali artworks, and so much more. It is truly difficult to convey the sheer scale of this extraordinary collection.

The centrepiece for the collection is Mercury's Yamaha Baby Grand Piano, whose caption aptly notes that it was "used to compose some of the greatest songs of the 20th century". It is expected to fetch at least £2,000,000. However, it's the oddities that arguably delight the most, whether it be the door to the Garden Lodge lovingly adorned with fan messages or that Mercury's love for Japan seemed to be only superceded by his obsession with cats, and cat-themed bric-a-brac.

While some eyebrows have been raised by fans regarding the somewhat voyeuristic nature of the auction, in lieu of knowing Freddie Mercury's feelings on such a sale, we are immensely grateful for the opportunity to revisit and celebrate his life and legacy. For free, no less. A truly spellbinding offering, already enjoyed by over 100,000 visitors from across the world.

Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own runs from 4 August - 5 September 2023. More info on the exhibition, and the subsequent auction can be found at Sotheby's.

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