Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own | An Incredible Free Exhibition
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Well, the answer is both, really. Because this is an exhibition unlike anything you’ll have seen before – a vast collection of Freddie Mercury’s personal possessions, from beaten-up board games and a collection of cats, to dazzling costumes from his iconic stage appearances (you can get a taster in our reel). And it’s entirely free to visit.
It’s the kind of blockbuster exhibition that’s usually reserved for big institutions like the V&A, but this show’s origin story is fairly unique. It turns out that the Queen frontman’s personal belongings have been left untouched in his London home for the past thirty years, and now Sotheby’s is auctioning the lot across six separate events. Before they do, though, they’re putting everything on display for you to pore over – and it fills a staggering 13 gallery spaces across 2 floors. And while we’re on the topic of staggering stats, we’ll just forewarn you that this exhibition is, unsurprisingly, insanely popular – and since there’s no ticketing system, you should factor in a queue time of about 45 minutes to get in.
It’s more than worth it when you finally do make it in through the giant, moustachioed door, though. Sotheby’s have decked out the galleries in a way that almost feels like you’re rifling through Freddie Mercury’s Kensington house. Every square inch is adorned with furniture, paintings, collectibles, instruments, clothing and more.
Even if you’re not a Queen mega-fan, it feels like those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. There are hugely significant items, like the baby grand piano he used to compose Bohemian Rhapsody; his iconic crown & cloak; and the handwritten lyrics to songs like ‘Somebody To Love’. There’s an amazing room dedicated to his love of Japanese art & kimonos. But you’ll also see more everyday stuff, like his Scrabble set which always came on tour (he was apparently very hard to beat), and a collection of 29 different cat ornaments.
You’ll likely need somewhere to recover after the sensory onslaught of it all, and you can either take a load off in the restaurant, which is serving some of Freddie’s favourite dishes (from Fat Bottomed Prawn Cocktails to the Welsh Rarebit he used to enjoy at Richoux), or the cat-themed café at the end, named after two of his pets, Mike & Delilah. And, of course, you can exit through the gift shop – though technically speaking, the entire exhibition is a gift shop, with everything due to go under the hammer in September. Even that $82,000 NYC restaurant bill…
…which will probably reach even more at auction.
NOTE: Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own is showing at Sotheby’s until 5th September. Entry is free, and there’s no need to book – you can find out more here.
Sotheby’s | 34-35 New Bond St, London W1A 2AA
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