"I like to be surrounded by splendid things," Freddie Mercury, the legendary frontman of rock band Queen, once said.
Now, a months-long public exhibition titled "Freddie Mercury: A World of his Own," hosted by London auction house Sotheby's, allows visitors to explore the collected curios that filled "the public and private realm of a global icon."
In addition to being a world-renowned rock superstar, Mercury was an eclectic collector of art, fashion, furniture and jewels that were gathered over decades.
Mercury's collection was formerly preserved at the musician's beloved home, Garden Lodge in London. This shrine to the performer displayed "a quality and diversity of works that are a testament not only to his manifold passions, but innate style, accomplished artistry, and brilliant mind," the Sotheby auction house said.
The special exhibition kicks off on Friday, August 4 at Sotheby'sin London. Visitors can enjoy music and champagne but are asked to honor the dress code, which is inspired by Mercury's birthday party in 1986 in which "flamboyant hats are encouraged," Sotheby's stated on its website.
Gems from rare collection on show
The exhibition ends on September 5, culminating in a series of six auctions that include stage costumes and handwritten song lyrics; woodblock prints picked up during Mercury's travels through his beloved Japan; and a white silk evening scarf.
A certified gold single sales award for "Bohemian Rhapsody" and an MTV video music award, as well as Adidas high-top sneakers and Mercury's signature crown and cloak ensemble, are also on display.
Parts of the collection were previously on show at Sotheby's in New York in June 2023 before traveling to Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
Greatest hits and timeless sex appeal
Freddie Mercury was born in 1946 to Parsi-Indian parents in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Real name Farrokh Bulsara, Mercury moved to London with his parents in the mid-1960s after attending school in India and returning to his place of birth — from where he was forced to flee when the island's violent revolution broke out.
After co-founding the glam rock band Queen in the early 1970s in London, Mercury soon sang some of the greatest hits in pop music history, including "Bohemian Rhapsody" (1975), "We Will Rock You" (1977), "We Are the Champions" (1977), "Another One Bites the Dust" (1980), "Radio Ga Ga" and "I Want to Break Free" (both in 1984).
Queen sold out stadium gigs around the world in the 1970s and 80s, but front and center was Mercury with his inimitable, gender fluid persona and timeless sex appeal.
Rumors about Mercury's homosexuality circled for years. With the outbreak of the HIV/AIDS virus during the 1980s, tabloid newspapers started to question Mercury's health.
Nevertheless, while he never married, he once said that his relationship with Mary Austin, who he met in 1969, was like a union and he considered her to be "his wife." She allegedly inspired the Queen song "Love of My Life."
There are few details about when Mercury actually contracted HIV — nor about when he was officially diagnosed.
The deterioration of his health eventually prevented Mercury from going on tour and he passed away in 1991 at the age of 45.
Immortalized in the 2018 biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody," Mercury's flamboyant legacy will continue to be celebrated in the London exhibition and auction.
"Freddie Mercury: A World of his Own" runs from August 4 through early September 2023.