Freddie Mercury’s piano just sold for over $2 million in a Sotheby’s auction.
The Queen frontman first bought the Yamaha C2 baby grand piano in 1975, and is believed to have used the piano to compose the iconic hit “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The piano was expected to garner around $2.5 million or $3.7 million at auction, but it ended up selling for $2.2 million. In a Sotheby’s description of the lot, Mercury’s ex-fiance and longtime friend Mary Austin described how much Mercury loved the piano.
“Freddie treated the Yamaha with absolute respect,” Austin said. “He considered it to be more than an instrument, it was an extension of himself, his vehicle of creativity. He would never smoke at the piano or rest a glass on top of it and would ensure nobody else did either. The piano was always pristine.”
On social media, Sotheby’s announced the sale:
#AuctionUpdate Freddie Mercury’s Yamaha G2 Baby Grand Piano—which he used to compose hits such as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and considered as an extension of himself—sells for £1.7m, setting a record for a composer's piano pic.twitter.com/bE0dJjZLIB
— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) September 6, 2023
Mercury considered Austin his common-law wife, and he left her most of his estate when he died. Along with his piano, Austin placed numerous other items from Mercury’s life up for auction, including clothing, photographs, instruments, handwritten lyric drafts and more.
Last week Sotheby’s London exhibited the items to the public free of charge, drawing more than 100,000 visitors. The Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own exhibition featured stage costumes, handwritten lyrics, personal photographs and other ephemera from the icon’s memorable life.
His piano wasn’t the only thing that sold for an astronomical price: Mercury’s handwritten lyrics for “Bohemian Rhapsody” sold for $1.73 million, while “We Are the Champions” sold for $397,235. The lots (there were “nearly 60”) sold on the first night of the auction took in $15.4 million, Sotheby’s reports.
The auction of more than 1,500 items also continued for several more nights, attracting bidders from more than 60 countries. Some items are still available for online bids through Sept. 12.
Unfortunately, not everyone was happy that Austin decided to sell off some of Mercury’s possessions. Many fans felt the items should have been preserved in a museum setting, rather than sold off to separate buyers.
Queen guitarist Brian May shared his grief over the exhibition on Instagram.
“Inescapably thinking so much about Freddie in these strange days,” he wrote. “At the time this photo was taken I’m sure it didn’t seem very important to see Freddie’s fingers dancing on my own home-made guitar. Now it summons up waves of affection and great memories. He is so missed.”
However, Austin says the decision was necessary.
“I need to put my affairs in order,” Austin told the BBC. “The time has come for me to take the difficult decision to close this very special chapter in my life.”
Austin said she “had to be brave and sell the lot,” so she kept only a few personal gifts as well as her favorite photos of Mercury. For now, she continues to live in the London mansion that she and Mercury shared until his death in 1991 of AIDs.