FRED­DIE MER­CURY’S EX-FI­ANCÉE SET FOR A HUGE WIND­FALL

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - TOP STORIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD -

It was panned by crit­ics, but Bo­hemian Rhap­sody won best film at the Golden Globes on Sun­day and has made al­most £600mil­lion at the box of­fice. Now the huge suc­cess of the movie about the band Queen will see Mary Austin, the for­mer fi­ancee of lead singer Fred­die Mer­cury, scoop around £40mil­lion in roy­al­ties. She met Mer­cury in 1970 when she was a 19-year-old art stu­dent and they moved in to­gether be­fore he was fa­mous. Al­though their en­gage­ment ended when he told her he was gay, the pair re­mained re­mark­ably close for the rest of his life. And after his death in 1991 he left her 50 per cent of his fu­ture earn­ings. A fur­ther 25 per cent went to his par­ents and 25 per cent to his sis­ter. Miss Austin’s share in­creased to 75 per cent after the death of Mer­cury’s par­ents. He had also left her his 28- room £20mil­lion west Lon­don man­sion, as well as the bulk of his £9mil­lion for­tune – in­clud­ing his art col­lec­tion and Louis XV fur­ni­ture. Ac­cord­ing to fi­nan­cial records, fu­ture earn­ings of Queen are split four ways be­tween the Fred­die Mer­cury es­tate and his three sur­viv­ing band­mates – gui­tarist Brian May, drum­mer Roger Tay­lor and bassist John Dea­con. It means that Miss Austin re­ceives around 19 per cent. Miss Austin, 67, is un­der­stood to have lit­tle to do with May, Tay­lor or Dea­con and is not thought to have had any in­volve­ment in the pro­duc­tion of the film Bo­hemian Rhap­sody, in which she is played by ac­tress Lucy Boyn­ton. The Queen song the film is named after has been down­loaded 1.6bil­lion times around the world. But when the movie was re­leased in Oc­to­ber it was mocked by crit­ics, with com­ments in­clud­ing ‘Fred­die Mer­cury biopic bites the dust’, ‘this karaoke-style paean is all style, no soul’ and ‘strung to­gether with join-the-dots plot­ting’. Against the odds, how­ever, the film was named best mo­tion pic­ture at the Golden Globes on Sun­day, while Rami Malek won the award for best ac­tor for his por­trayal of Mer­cury. The film, which cost £40mil­lion to make, has earned £580mil­lion around the world. It is now a ma­jor con­tender for suc­cess at the Os­cars next month. Miss Austin has kept away from the bright lights, choos­ing to live a quiet life in Mer­cury’s for­mer home. She is oc­ca­sion­ally spot­ted pop­ping to the shops in train­ers and sports cloth­ing. In a rare in­ter­view six years ago, she ad­mit­ted that in­her­it­ing Mer­cury’s for­tune was a bur­den which had caused ‘bit­ter re­sent­ment’, not least among the sur­viv­ing band mem­bers. She also re­counted the mo­ment he told her he was gay after six years to­gether. Miss Austin re­called: ‘He said, “I think I am bi­sex­ual”, I told him, “I think you’re gay”. And noth­ing else was said. We just hugged.’ Swear­ing he still loved and needed her, he pleaded with her to re­main his clos­est com­pan­ion, and in­stalled her in a flat near his home. Close friends say she be­came a sort of sur­ro­gate mother to him for the rest of his life and nursed him be­fore he died from Aids. Mer­cury once said: ‘I couldn’t fall in love with a man the same way as I have with Mary.’ Miss Austin has two adult sons by painter Piers Cameron and was mar­ried to busi­ness­man Nick Hol­ford, but both re­la­tion­ships were short­lived. It ap­pears she found it dif­fi­cult to find any­one to live up to Mer­cury. His sur­viv­ing band­mates are each ex­pected to re­ceive at least £63mil­lion from the movie, though this could rise to nearer £70mil­lion. The trio are al­ready vastly wealthy. The 2018 Sun­day Times Rich List val­ued May’s for­tune at £135mil­lion, Tay­lor’s at £130mil­lion and Dea­con’s at £105mil­lion. This will rocket when they re­ceive roy­al­ties from the block­buster. A film in­sider said: ‘They will be mas­sively in profit. Be­cause Queen Films made the film they are quite high up the wa­ter­fall of money that cas­cades down from the film. ‘This film was cre­ated and man­aged by Queen, which means they can pro­tect their share. I would ex­pect the stu­dio to get around 50 per cent and the rest to go to the sur­viv­ing Queen mem­bers and the Fred­die Mer­cury es­tate.’

Mary Austin (left) and Fred­die Mer­cury (right) pic­tured smil­ing at his 38th birth­day party

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Sri Lanka

© PressReader. All rights reserved.