What could arguably be the best exhibition in London at the moment has opened as Sotheby’s has devoted its entire building to one man – Freddie Mercury.

The exhibition, which would be a major summer blockbuster anywhere else is a chance for potential buyers to look upon the former Queen star’s personal effects prior to their sale at auction, but also for absolutely everyone else to just gaze on his huge collecting habit.

And what a collection it is, from his huge interest in Japan to his home furnishings to his cats, and of course, the glamour of celebrity for being a member of Queen.

Rather than just filling room after room with objects in cases, they’ve laid the exhibition out thematically, based on the rooms at Freddie Mercury’s home, so you can wander through the dining room, the conservatory, the lounge, and one room few got to see — his collection of Japanese art. Only the closest friends were allowed to see that when he was alive, but now, everyone can see a sample of his huge collection.

He was also a bit catty — as in obsessed with cats — and away from the glamour is a lot of chintz chinaware in cat form. The sort of stuff that candidly would probably sell for a few quid anywhere else, but add in the allure of the previous owner, and they’ll likely sell for a princely sum.

Two pianos are on display, one likely a collectable, but also, in pride of place upstairs is the one he used to rehearse on.

The ground floor is very much a display of Freddie in private, but upstairs is much more Freddie the superstar. Music fans may swoon at the handwritten lyrics, and I’d suggest doing something that I didn’t see anyone else do — look closely at the records in a case — one of them is the original Bohemian Rhapsody sample record for approval.

Obviously, the costumes are here, cleverly displayed on mannequins with 3d-printed replica Freddie Mercury heads, and lots of gold records fill another room with his famous ermine coat proving to be quite the selfie zone.

Sotheby’s has cleverly managed to lay out a huge collection of items that are intended to be sold off, and yet also managed to capture some of the atmosphere of the man who once owned them.

This is the largest exhibition that Sotheby’s has ever put on, taking over every viewing room in the building, and to make it manageable, there’s a formal route to follow, a bit like trying to get around Ikea, although this time there’s fewer meatballs and more bling.

Even if you’re not a Queen fan, this is one of those rare “once in a lifetime” exhibitions of a collection that will never be seen in one location again. Being free to visit is quite amazing.

A note of admiration for the lighting of the paintings. Not only are there no reflections, but step back a bit and the paintings actually glow. It’s top quality lighting at work, and please, museum curators take a look and when you get back to the office, badger your fundraising departments to get you some new lightbulbs.

If not bidding in the auction, you can buy the substantial exhibition catalogue, that comes with a very Sotheby’s price tag of £50, or you can buy a tote bag for £20.

Amusingly, two of the items being sold in the auction are auction catalogues from previous sales where he bought additions to his collection.

The exhibition, Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own is at Sotheby’s on Bond Street until 5th September and is free to visit.

It’s open every day from 11am to 4:30pm, except weekends when it opens at noon. The doorman suggested that they expect to be busier in the afternoons, so maybe visit in the mornings.

Exhibition Rating


34-35 New Bond Street, London


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  1. Sean says:

    It really is quite something isn’t it. Proper once in a lifetime stuff. Managed to get in easily on Saturday but it’s got the air of something that will have queues out the doors very soon.

  2. diamond geezer says:

    The queues aren’t too bad on a wet weekday morning, but the footman advised us that the best time to visit is after 1pm.

  3. Nick says:

    Wow! I’ve been to the same nightclub in Munich, but my bill was somewhat less.

  4. Kate Turnbull says:

    What a fabulous exhibition, Sotherby’s really pulled it off, the way it was laid out made it easy to see every delicious item on display.
    All the staff at Sotheby’s were so professional, friendly & helpful, they seemed so proud of their achievements & of what they were sharing with the general public who were also very friendly.
    We were all in a daze just soaking up all of Freddie’s incredible collection of beautiful class items,it was an amazing day, one that will never be forgotten, just like lovely Freddie, thankyou to all of you.

  5. Jeannine says:

    Very excited to visit in a couple of weeks…. Just wondering, is there a time limit? In other words, if I get there when they open, will I be limited to a certain time for wandering around, or could I stay until closing if I wanted to? Thanks all, and thanks for this fantastic article!!

  6. Jimmy says:

    We know you’ll be bidding, Ian. What’s your budget?

  7. Ana says:

    I would just be happy with the catalogue… But it’s sold out… Does anyone know if it is even possible to still buy it anywhere? 🙁

  8. Saskia says:

    Fabulous exhibition! Went in the morning but they were already about a hundred waiting outside. Eventually made it into Sotheby’s after less than half an hour queuing. Failed to see a few displays because people didn’t move from them. I guess it was interesting 😉 Overall, a once in a lifetime exhibition, but not quite sure what Freddie would think about this…

  9. Trudi Humphry-Rankin says:

    Fantastic exhibit of dear Freddie’s career and life, so worth the queue as once this is over you won’t get the chance again.
    Uplifting and sad at the same time, such a missed legend.

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