FREDDIE MERCURY’s prized piano sells for record $2.2 million
A handwritten manuscript for “Bohemian Rhapsody” also sold during Sotheby’s auction of his 1,500-item estate
The piano Freddie Mercury used to compose QUEEN‘s landmark song “Bohemian Rhapsody” sold for $2.2 million on Wednesday as part of Sotheby’s 1,500-piece estate sale of the singer’s treasured possessions.
The sale of Mercury’s 1973 Yamaha Grand surpassed the $2.1 million paid for John Lennon’s Steinway, which he used to write “Imagine” and was swooped up in 2000 by George Michael, according to the Wall Street Journal.
His collection, which Mercury once described as “exquisite clutter,” included handwritten lyrics for Queen’s operatic anthem that sold for $1.7 million. Notably, the 15 pages of lyrics — written on stationary for a defunct airline — reveal that the song was nearly titled “Mongolian Rhapsody” before the singer crossed it out and replaced it with the similarly syllabic “Bohemian.”
Additional items tied to “Rhapsody” sold at a premium on Wednesday. A gold Cartier brooch the band’s manager gifted each member after the song hit number one and branded with the words “Queen number 1” went for $208,000, while the silver snake bangle the frontman wore in the music video was auctioned for $881,717 — setting a record high for a piece of jewelry once owned by a rock star, according to Sotheby’s.
Mercury’s handwritten lyrics for other Queen classics also caught hefty price tags, and his one-page draft of “Killer Queen” sold for $352,687, while his lyrics for 1977’s enduring classic “We Are the Champions” sold for $400,780.
His collection of Japanese art also brought in high bidders, with one shelling out $368,718 for a Utagawa Hiroshige 1857 woodblock print, “Sudden Shower over the Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Atake.” Mercury, who was an avid art collector, also owned prints by Pablo Picasso ($240,000), Salvador Dalí ($60,900), and Marc Chagall ($80,000).
The atmosphere on the auction’s first day was more celebratory than the average formal affair. After successfully bidding $801,500 for Mercury’s iconic rhinestone crown and red faux fur cloak he draped across his shoulders during Queen’s final 1986 tour, one man was reportedly so overcome with joy that he lifted his arms in victory and embraced the woman next to him, per AP.
More items are expected to hit the auction block on Thursday following the June tour of his belongings to Sotheby’s houses in New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong.