Published On: Sun, Mar 3rd, 2024

Why Freddie Mercury left his house to Mary Austin when she begged him not to | Music | Entertainment

Freddie Mercury hallway

Freddie Mercury’s home is for sale: The elegant hallway (Image: KNIGHT FRANK)

Freddie Mercury barely had a decade in the home of his dreams. He lost his life on November 24, 1991, in bed at Garden Lodge with his dearest friends and beloved cats around him.

Last September, the Queen legend’s ex-girlfriend Mary Austin auctioned off the contents of West Kensington house and memorabilia, totalling over 30,000 items. The sale brought in £39.9million, smashing estimates.

This reinforced the eternal interest in the rock icon, backed by constant calls that his home should be, and always should have been, a museum and memorial to his life and career.

But there is one simple, irrefutable reason why that has never happened, and it is closely bound with the greatest mystery of Freddie’s death.

Freddie Mercury house and garden

Freddie Mercury’s West Kensington house and garden (Image: KNIGHT FRANK)

Freddie Mercury final photo in his garden with one of the cats

Freddie Mercury’s final photo in his garden with one of the cats (Image: INSTA )

See those beautiful pink blossom trees? Freddie loved to look at them from inside, or sit out under their shade. There have been persistent rumours for years that his ashes are buried underneath them.

Only one person in the world knows for sure – Mary Austin. Just as Freddie asked her to bury his ashes in secret, so, too, he entrusted his home to her care.

It was Mary who found the property for him, during a period when the star was mainly living in New York or Germany, tired of being hounded by the UK press. He immediately offered the full asking price but then spent years on renovations and lavish decorating.

Freddie Mercury dining room

Freddie Mercury’s dining room (Image: KNIGHT FRANK)

Freddie once said: “I’d been living in the same little Kensington flat for ages, so I phoned Mary from America and asked her to find a place. I saw the house, fell in love with it and within half an hour it was mine…

“Whenever I watched Hollywood movies set in plush homes with lavish decor, I wanted that for myself and now I’ve got it. But to me, it was much more important to get the damn thing than to actually go and live in it. I’m very much like that, once I get something I’m not that keen on it any more…

“It’s full of marble floors and mahogany staircases. It even has a garden that’s three-quarters of an acre.. in Kensington. Can you believe it?”

Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin

Freddie Mercury and Mary Austin (Image: PH )

Freddie was slowing down, though, after years of partying in Germany and the US (and everywhere else) and was yearning for a home and for security. He would soon meet his final partener, Jim Hutton.

He said: “Sometimes when I’m alone at night, I imagine when I’m 50 I’ll creep into Garden Lodge, as my refuge, and then start making it a home. When I’m old and grey and when everything is finished and I can’t wear the costumes and jig around on stage anymore, I’ll have something to fall back on, and that’s this wonderful house.”

His dream came true and the mansion became a place of refuge, where Freddie would watch his favourite TV shows and leave his superstar persona outside the garden gate (which went for £400,000 at the auction).

Freddie Mercury and Jim Hutton

Freddie Mercury and Jim Hutton (Image: PH )

Freddie lived at Garden Lodge with his partner Jim Hutton, ex-boyfriend and chef Joe Fanelli, and friend and PA Peter Freestone. All looked after him around the clock in his final months, along with Mary and rock star friend Dave Clarke.

Mary tried to persuade Freddie to leave the house as a memorial to his life and work for fans to visit, but he was determined. She revealed he told her: “If things had been different, you would have been my wife and this would have been yours anyway.”

However, on top of losing her dearest friend, Mary admitted the will brought her many problems; “Some of the fans even told me I was only the keeper of the house. That hurt. I know several of Freddie’s gay friends were surprised Freddie had left so much to me. There those who thought they should have been left the house. It was like people begrudged me having what he had left me.”

Freddie Mercury and Peter Freestone

Freddie Mercury and Peter Freestone (Image: PH )

It was also another eight years before Mary received the bulk of his money from the will: “It was a worrying time. The taxman had been paid, but without the money coming through, I didn’t know if I could afford to keep the house. I felt under a lot of pressure.”

Freddie wanted his ashes buried secretly because he had a horror of someone trying to dig them up and likewise he wanted his home preserved as a home, and kept private. He trusted Mary completely to do all this for him. And she has for over 30 years, giving almost no interviews and permitting no public photographs inside.

The estate agent listing is private and viewings will only be arranged once financial credentials for serious buyers have been established

When the sale was announced, Mary released a simple statement: “This house has been the most glorious memory box, because it has such love and warmth in every room. It has been a joy to live in and I have many wonderful memories here. Now that it is empty, I’m transported back to the first time we viewed it.

“Ever since Freddie and I stepped through the fabled green door, it has been a place of peace, a true artist’s house, and now is the time to entrust that sense of peace to the next person.”

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