The smallest item in the Freddie Mercury sale is driving bids sky high. It’s intricate, stylish, practical, and used in grooming rock ’n’ roll’s most iconic moustache. Here’s a look at the item driving collectors wild, and still very much open for bidding…
T he exuberant Queen frontman continues to enthral fans and devotees around the globe, and never more so than with the opening of the Freddie Mercury: A World of his Own exhibition at Sotheby’s in London, where fans continue to queue daily down New Bond Street and around the block. More than 40,000 visitors have already passed through the doors.
Items on display from the auction range from the petite and domestic to the glamorous and grand – a grand piano to be precise: the one Freddie used to pen Bohemian Rhapsody and so many other chart-topping hits, sits pride of place in the galleries. Each of these objects was once housed in Garden Lodge, Mercury’s home, areas of which have been recreated to bring these objects to life in context.
Nestled amongst the accoutrements of Freddie’s wardrobe, an unexpected auction sensation is gathering momentum. Next to his Cartier brooch and a decorative Victorian clock, sits an unassuming silver moustache comb that somehow captures the singer’s essence.
This modest item, which one can imagine being carried in his top pocket or sitting atop his dresser, has seized the imagination of collectors, sending bids soaring 50-times higher than its conservative £400-600 estimate to, at the moment, £24,000 – and rising.
While the sharp increase in the comb's price is making headlines, it highlights the wider trend of collectibles gaining substantial value over time. This piece of memorabilia bridges the gap between music, fashion, and jewellery.
As a true creative (he studied at art school so had not just a keen eye, but detailed knowledge of art and design history), Freddie was confident with pushing aesthetic boundaries, and in 1980 he cut his hair short and grew a moustache. Initially it divided his fan base, but it soon became his trademark look. So much so that an oversized moustache now hangs over the Sotheby’s front door in his tribute.
Just as comfortable in the world of high fashion and couture as he was in casual sportswear, Freddie Mercury continually pushed the boundaries of conventional masculinity, donning kimono or sequinned catsuits for stage performances and videos – these, too, are part of the auction. “Freddie has had such a lasting influence on fashion today,” fashion designer Zandra Rhodes recalls. “He was forging a path for wearing feminine clothes in his own way, when people weren’t doing that. Today men in drag are celebrated in the mainstream, but back then it was considered quite shocking.”
The emotional connection toward these pieces has driven exhibition attendance to record levels, with fans spurred on by chance to step into Freddie’s world. The invitation remains open; for the month of August 2023 at Sotheby’s London, you can participate in a moment in cultural history – and own a part of it yourself.