Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was originally titled “Mongolian Rhapsody”. An early draft of the famous song by Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) shows the rock star deleted “Mongolian” and replaced the now famous title. Curiosity emerges from a series of unpublished Mercury manuscripts that Sotheby’s will offer for auction in London at the beginning of next September. The autograph working text of 1974’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is estimated at £800,000-1,200,000 (932,000 – 1,400,000 euros).
The never-before-seen collection of the singer’s handwritten working drafts for Queen’s immortal hits will be unveiled for the first time this weekend at Sotheby’s in New York, before being shown in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. The manuscripts will then return to London as part of a month-long exhibition in August ahead of six auctions entitled ‘Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own’ which will take place from 6 to 8 September.
These handwritten pages reveal the genesis of a list of Queen songs – most created during an explosion of high creativity in the mid-1970s – which, almost fifty years later, continue to resonate in contemporary culture: among these “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Somebody to Love”, “We Are the Champions” and the star of them all, that enduring phenomenon that is “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which reveals its secrets in fifteen extraordinary pages of lyrics and melodies , even revealing a possible alternate title for the song. “In scope, quality and exceptional provenance, the body of lyrics offers an unprecedented glimpse into the creative mind of one of the most influential songwriters of the 20th century,” Sotheby’s explains in a statement.
All autographs emerge directly from Mercury’s personal collection, held and treasured at his beloved London home, Garden Lodge, since he lived there. Together the manuscripts, a Sotheby’s spokesman points out, “take us on a journey to discover Mercury’s heart as a creative artist, providing glimpses of the alternative forms these most celebrated songs could have taken and even, in the case of an unpublished first notebook preceding Queen’s first record deal, revealing ideas for songs that were never released.”
Among the memorabilia to be auctioned will also be the crown and cape worn by Mercury for the final performance of ‘God Save The Queen’ during Queen’s last tour in 1986; the handwritten lyrics of “We Are The Champions”; the autograph text of “Killer Queen”; a sumptuous military-style ceremonial jacket created for her legendary 39th birthday Drag Ball in Munich on September 5, 1985; a small silver mustache comb from Tiffany; pink star-shaped glasses. These are some of the objects kept so far in the rock star’s home, Garden Lodge in Kensington, in west London. The Sotheby’s auction house received a few weeks ago from Mary Austin, a friend of Mercury, the task of putting up for sale the personal collection of the Queen frontman, which will be divided into 1,500 lots.
For nearly 30 years, Garden Lodge has remained almost entirely as Mercury left it, entrusted to Austin’s care: from Victorian paintings and inspiring works on paper by the greatest artists of the 20th century to the finest examples of glassmaking and such other beautiful items; from the exceptional fabrics and fine artwork she sought out while traveling in Japan, to the smaller, more personal items that were such an important part of her daily life.
This summer, Garden Lodge objects will be unveiled to the public for the first time in the ‘Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own’ exhibition opening in London on 4 August and concluding on 5 September, Mercury’s 77th birthday. .
The six dedicated auctions that will follow will be led by an in-person sale on 6 September, in which a representative section of the most significant objects in the collection will be offered. Two other face-to-face auctions will follow on 7 and 8 September: the first dedicated to Mercury “On Stage”, the second to his life “At Home” and the objects he loved and with which he lived at Garden Lodge. Three online auctions will take place in parallel, one highlighting his deep love for Japan and the other two, two-part “Crazy Little Things,” featuring an eclectic array of curious objects that were part of Mercury’s everyday life.
The auction will be accompanied by the release of a limited edition Collection Book, a commemorative volume that brings to life the story of Freddie Mercury and the objects that surrounded him.
Among the top lots of the six auctions is a portrait of the French painter Jacques Tissot, which was the last work of art purchased by Mercury, a month before his death: it is estimated that it could sell for between 400,000 and 600,000 pounds. Another highlight of the sale will be Freddie Mercury’s handwritten working text of one of Queen’s greatest anthems, ‘We Are The Champions’, complete with harmonies and chords, written over nine pages (estimate £200,000-300,000 ). The lyrics to ‘Killer Queen’, written on a single sheet of paper with a black biro in 1974, are expected to sell for between £50,000-70,000.
19-year-old Mary Austin had been dating Queen guitarist Brian May when she first met Mercury in 1970. They moved in together and remained close even after he told her he was gay. She took care of him when he became weaker after contracting the AIDS-related disease. Mercury once said of Austin, “I don’t have many people to turn to. And the only one, if we want to talk about it, is Mary.” Naturally shy and self-effacing, Austin has rarely spoken in public since Mercury died.
Mary Austin, who over the past thirty years has guarded and cared for the rock star’s London home and everything in it, declared in a statement released by Sotheby’s: “For many years I have had the joy and privilege of living surrounded by all the wonderful things that Freddie sought out and loved. But the years have passed and the time has come for me to make the difficult decision to close this very special chapter of my life. It was important to me to do it in a way that I thought Freddie would enjoy , and there was nothing he loved more than an auction. Freddie was an incredible and intelligent collector who showed us that there is beauty, fun and conversation to be found in everything; I hope this is an opportunity to share all the many facets of Freddie, both public and private, and for the world to better understand and celebrate his unique and beautiful spirit.”
(by Paolo Martini)
#Queen #manuscripts #auction #Freddie #Mercury #wrote #Mongolian #Rhaposy