This Pricey Piano Produced Some Giant Hits

Freddie Mercury's baby grand sells for $2M at auction
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 7, 2023 12:20 PM CDT
This Pricey Piano Produced Some Giant Hits
The Yamaha G2 baby grand piano used by Freddie Mercury.   (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

The piano Freddie Mercury used to compose "Bohemian Rhapsody" and other hits by Queen has sold for more than $2 million at auction in the UK. Also of note: A Victorian-style silver snake bangle Mercury wore in a video for the song—long before the days of MTV—set a record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a piece of jewelry owned by a rock star, Sotheby's said, per the AP. The bracelet went for $881,000. The eclectic collection of objects were amassed by Mercury after Queen's glam-rock produced an avalanche of hits that allowed the singer to achieve his dream of living a Victorian life "surrounded by exquisite clutter."

Mercury's close friend, Mary Austin, to whom he left his house and his possessions when he died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1991 at 45, is selling it all—more than 1,400 items. Items connected to the operatic "Rhapsody," the band's most enduring hit, brought a premium at the auction on Wednesday, with hand-written lyrics to the song selling for about $1.7 million and a gold Cartier brooch saying "Queen number 1" given to each band member by their manager after the song topped the charts, selling for $208,000. Bidders from 61 countries took part in person, online and by phone, shelling out a total of $15.4 million for about 60 items.

The Yamaha baby grand piano on which Mercury wrote some of Queen's greatest hits was one of the few items that sold for less than its estimated price tag, though it still sold for the most amount of money. It had been expected to sell for as much as $3.75 million but went for $2.2 million. Sotheby's said it was the highest price ever paid for a composer's piano. Other items that were treasured by fans were Mercury's draft lyrics to "Somebody to Love" (304,000), and "Don't Stop Me Now" and "We Are the Champions," which each fetched the same price: $400,700.

(More Freddie Mercury stories.)

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