30 Years After His Death, Freddie Mercury’s 1976 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Was Sold to a Drag Queen
Freddie Mercury is best known as the lead vocalist of the rock group Queen. The flamboyant Mercury amassed somewhere around $50 million from his music. With that kind of money, many celebrities opt for chauffeurs to get them to and from. Freddie Mercury was often driven in a 1976 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow that was recently auctioned off to another flamboyant entertainer Verka Serduchka.
Freddie Mercury’s life and legacy
Born Farrokh Bulsara in Tanzania to Indian parents, Freddie Mercury spent much of his childhood in India, where he took piano lessons and learned about Western pop music. Falling in love with the genre, he immigrated to the U.K. at 15 and later studied graphic design.
After graduation, Mercury joined several different bands while working odd jobs. According to Biography, by the early 70s, he teamed up with guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor, and bassist John Deacon to form Queen.
While Queen’s first three albums made them famous enough to headline a world tour, they were still impoverished because of a bad management deal. Queen managed to get out of the agreement after their third album. But they were so broke they would have split up had it not been for their classic fourth album, A Night at the Opera, spurred by the success of its lead single, the iconic Bohemian Rhapsody.
A run of platinum and multi-platinum albums followed, along with performances the world over. Mercury had become known for his virtuosic singing range, complex songwriting material and structure, and theatrical performance style. Driven by Mercury’s solo, Queen’s act at the 1985 Live Aid concert is widely regarded as the greatest live rock performance ever, according to BBC.
Unfortunately, by 1988, media reports circulated that Mercury might have contracted AIDS. Despite appearing worn in public, Mercury denied this. However, in late 1991, Mercury confirmed this diagnosis and died of related complications 24 hours later.
How Mercury’s Rolls-Royce landed in the hands of Verka Serduchka
When Mercury died, he gave most of his wealth to Mary Austin, a longtime friend, and former lover. The rest was passed on to his parents and sister, Kashmira Bulsara. According to Motorious, the Rolls Royce was passed to his sister, who occasionally made it available for display at events, before auctioning it off in 2013.
And the winner of that auction was Verka Serduchka, who landed it for a mere $117,000. Serduchka may be an unfamiliar name to U.S. audiences, but he is well known in Europe, earning a fortune selling records and acting. Born Andriy Danylko, he performs in drag as a flamboyant, middle-aged woman named Verka Serduchka. As Serduchka, he is perhaps notable for representing Ukraine in the 2007 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and winning second place.
According to NME, Danylko bought it not for personal use or his car collection. He bought it to preserve it for fans of Queen. He plans to donate the car to a museum to be enjoyed by the rock group’s legions of fans.
A Rolls Royce not driven by its owners
Danylko’s purchase is also fitting because it will continue Rolls Royce’s long tradition of not being driven by its owner. While we don’t know if Kashmira Bulsara drove it at all, it’s doubtful she used it for daily grocery runs as she grieved for her brother’s death. We do know she loaned it out to the Freddie Mercury Museum in Tanzania and for Queen-related events. Danylko won’t drive it either.
Its original registered owner, Freddie Mercury, himself didn’t drive it. According to Leasing Options, unlike many wealthy celebrities who opt for a driver, Mercury didn’t drive it because he never learned to drive. When his fortune matched his fame, he bought five cars but never drove one of them.
Though many people would give up a lot for the chance to take the wheel of a Rolls Royce or similar luxury car, it’s probably better that Mercury never learned to drive. The lifestyle that comes with being one of the world’s biggest rock stars in the 70s and 80s is not suitable for safe driving.