Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
Rakewell loves little more than the arrival of a single-owner collection at an auction house. Elizabeth Taylor’s luggage tags that say ‘MINE’, Marilyn Monroe’s dress from when she sang ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ and Paul Allen’s Botticelli have all lit up auction rooms in dazzling fashion. So imagine our excitement at the news that Sotheby’s is selling the collection of Freddie Mercury, the front man of British rock powerhouse Queen.
Sotheby’s has suggested that the singer ‘set about creating a home that was at once grand and intimate, full of theatre and richly furnished with beautiful works of art’. Mercury was clearly a man of varied and great tastes but Rakewell is at a loss. In the material released so far there seem to be few paintings. At least Elizabeth Taylor had her precious Van Gogh and Warhol. Mercury’s biggest ticket item seems to be a Tissot. While we can’t recommend the Tiffany moustache comb highly enough, it does seem odd that this is being presented as the assemblage of a great collection. How does Sotheby’s get away with pitching this? It’s a kind of magic.
On the other hand, Mercury – who was no slouch when it came to dressing – clearly had exemplary style. The auction house reliably informs us that the waistcoat he wore in the video for ‘These Are The Days of Our Lives’ is his favourite. How could it not be? It is covered in cats. They’re not quite leaping through the sky like a tiger, but they’re pretty cool cats.
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