The £40m Fred­die Mer­cury prize

Queen front­man's ex-fi­ancée, 67, who still lives in the singer's £20m home is set for a huge wind­fall from Bo­hemian Rhap­sody film that took the Golden Globes by storm

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIONAL - By Arthur Martin And Adam Luck (© Daily Mail, Lon­don)

It was panned by crit­ics, but Bo­hemian Rhap­sody won best film at the Golden Globes on Sun­day and has made al­most £600mn 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 £40mn 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 per­cent of his fu­ture earn­ings. A fur­ther 25 per­cent went to his par­ents and 25 per­cent to his sis­ter.

Miss Austin’s share in­creased to 75 per­cent af­ter the death of Mer­cury’s par­ents. He had also left her his 28-room £20mn west Lon­don man­sion, as well as the bulk of his £9mn for­tune.

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. Miss Austin re­ceives around 19 per­cent.

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.

The Queen song the film is named af­ter has been down­loaded 1.6bon times around the world. But the movie 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 £40mn to make, has earned £580mn 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’.

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 £63mn from the movie, though this could rise to nearer £70mn. The trio are al­ready vastly wealthy.

The 2018 Sun­day Times Rich List val­ued May’s for­tune at £ 135mn, Tay­lor’s at £130mn and Dea­con’s at £105mn. This will rocket when they re­ceive roy­al­ties from the block­buster.

Lucy Boyn­ton played Mary Austin in the film and Rami Malek played Mer­cury

Mary Austin has kept a low pro­file

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