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.
Freddie Mercury (left) and Mary Austin (right) at Freddie Mercury’s 38th birthday party
Mary Austin (left) and Freddie Mercury (right) met when Mary Austin was 19-years-old
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.
Lucy Boynton (left) played Mary Austin in the Bohemian Rhapsody film and Rami Malek (right) played Freddie Mercury
Mary Austin (left) and Freddie Mercury (right) at Freddie Mercury’s 38th birthday party at Club Xenon After Queen’s London leg of ‘The Works’ European tour at Wembley Arena
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’.
Mary Austin (pictured above) has kept a low profile since the movie was released
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.
Mary Austin (left) and Freddie Mercury (right) pictured smiling at his 38th birthday party
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.’
A spokesman for Queen declined to comment. Miss Austin did not respond to requests for comment.