(London) Manuscripts by Freddie Mercury never presented to the public, in the forefront of which that of Bohemian Rhapsody, will be exhibited in New York, the first stage of a tour before their auction in London in September, announced Thursday Sotheby’s.
After New York until June 8, the manuscripts will stop in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. They will then be displayed in August in the British capital before being sold in a series of auctions.
Written in ballpoint pen and pencil on paper from now defunct airline British Midlands Airways, Bohemian Rhapsody’s 15-page draft reveals the different directions Freddie Mercury envisioned for this iconic Queen track, It originally planned to be titled Mongolian Rhapsody.
Sotheby’s suggests an estimate between 800,000 and 1.2 million pounds sterling ($1.4 to 2 million).
Other drafts by the singer who died of AIDS in 1991 include Don’t Stop Me Now, Somebody to Love, and We Are the Champions, estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 pounds ($340,000 to $508,000).
With such early drafts being “easily lost or discarded”, the pieces up for auction offer “a fascinating dive into how the songs” of Freddie Mercury “were developed and assembled”, “while reminding us of their musical complexity and sophistication. “, underlined Gabriel Heaton, specialist in manuscripts at Sotheby’s.
These pages reveal the artist’s hard work, his “incredible care” in creating Queen’s signature vocal harmonies, he added.
Among the other exhibits is a red notebook from the early 1970s, arguably one of his earliest collections of lyrics, whose 42 pages also feature sketches of the band’s logo and coffee stains.
A yellow spiral notebook, 24 pages of lyrics for the band’s 1978 seventh album, Jazz, which includes the track Don’t Stop Me Now, will also go on sale, along with costumes, including the satin jumpsuit worn by Freddie Mercury in the Bohemian Rhapsody music video in 1975.
The complete catalog of the sale must be unveiled at the end of July at the beginning of August.
When the auction of the 1,500 objects, including stage costumes and paintings by Matisse or Picasso that belonged to Freddie Mercury, was announced in April, Sotheby’s had estimated that it would reach a total of at least 6 million pounds (more than $10 million).
Profits will be donated in part to the Mercury Phoenix Trust and Elton John Aids Foundation, two organizations involved in the fight against AIDS.