From Casablanca to Lennon’s Steinway: Most Expensive Piano Ever Sold
From Casablanca to Lennon’s Steinway: Most Expensive Piano Ever Sold

From Casablanca to Lennon’s Steinway: Most Expensive Piano Ever Sold

Invest in an expensive piano crafted by the world’s most sought-after brands. Pianos with strong provenance can pay off as investments—like one used in the 1942 film Casablanca worth over $3 million.

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Pianos are among the most beloved musical instruments in the world. They are not only fun to play, but also beautiful to look at. From traditional uprights to grand pianos to ones made of crystal and even galaxy-themed ones, these amazing instruments have come a long way since Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori invented them in 1709. 

However, some pianos take luxury to the next level and come with a hefty price tag. For example, the Casablanca "As Time Goes By" piano sold at Bonhams auction house for a whopping $3.4 million in 2014, making it the most expensive piano ever sold in the world. 

So why would anyone spend that much on a piano? Well, for one, these instruments are not just for playing—they're also great investments. Well, they are handcrafted using the finest materials, and some even carry a brush of fame or history, meaning these expensive pianos can appreciate in value over time. Plus, they have superior tonal quality, durability, and aesthetic beauty.

The Heintzman Crystal Piano was created with thousands of hand-cut crystal pieces specifically for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and it was sold for $3.22 million.

And if you're lucky, you might even come across a rare Heintzman Crystal piano, with fire-gilded figurines, wooden keys, and spruce soundboards, modeled after the original piano John Lennon used in the recording of the Yellow River Cantata.

If you’re an audiophile looking to make an investment, an expensive piano is a worthwhile choice. If you’re lucky, you just might find the biggest deal of your life.

Can an expensive piano be a good investment?

Expensive pianos are a great investment if you choose the right one, and it’s easy to see why—with their luxurious look and sound, they can make a difference in any room. High-end piano brands like Steinway & Sons, Fazioli, and Bosendorfer are highly sought after with their limited edition models. Even a baby grand piano can add class and elegance to your home, and talk more of luxury pianos like the Heintzman Crystal Piano with a price tag of $3.22 million.

If you're looking for something a bit more exclusive, the Galaxy Piano is a great choice, featuring an industrial-grade Lucite body with custom lighting and geometric harmony. John Lennon's Steinway & Sons Model Z is also another amazing piano with a price tag of $2.37 million. Not only can you tickle the ivories of these high-brow pianos, but they make for beautiful statement pieces and might go up in value if you take care of them. 

Whether it's a traditional upright or concert grand, or something more modern like a Chris Martin model D, there are several pianos to choose from. Plus, with a portion of some proceeds going towards charities like the fight against AIDS, you'll be doing something good while looking good.

Piano Brands

Investing in a high-quality piano can be a wise decision for collectors and musicians alike. Some of the rarest and most sought-after piano brands and models include Bosendorfer, Fazioli, Steinway & Sons, Bechstein, and Bluthner. These brands are known for their exceptional craftsmanship, reputation for quality, and long-standing history in the industry.

Steinway & Sons are particularly desirable for their iconic status and limited production, with some vintage models fetching millions at auction. Bosendorfer and Fazioli are also popular for their rarity and exceptional sound quality, while Yamaha and Kawai offer more affordable options without sacrificing quality. Ultimately, investing in a piano requires careful research and consideration of factors such as brand, rarity, and condition to make a wise investment decision.

Most expensive pianos to invest in

If you're looking to make a big impression, nothing says luxury and quality like a top-notch piano. Investing in one of these exquisite instruments will ensure that you have a unique and memorable playing experience. For instance, the "As Time Goes By" piano from the 1942 film Casablanca is a piece of movie history and comes with only 58 keys decorated with intricate designs, making sure you can play in style. 

And if you want something even more exclusive, consider the $3.22 million Heintzman Crystal Piano. This one-of-a-kind concert piano will amaze your friends, although it is made of acrylic and too fragile for regular use. The Steinway & Sons "Pictures at an Exhibition," crafted by Paul Wyse, is another great choice to consider if you prefer a more traditional instrument. 

After 6,000 hours of work and four years of creation to perfection, it is available for purchase for $2.5 million. Or you can splurge on John Lennon’s Steinway & Sons Model Z piano, which was auctioned for $2.37 million due to its celebrity history and was used to compose the hit song "Imagine." 

No matter which piano you choose, you're sure to make a statement. Investing in these luxurious instruments is a wise decision that will bring joy and sophistication to your home for years to come.

1. Casablanca “As Time Goes By” Piano

  • Price: $3.4 million 
  • Type: Upright Piano

The iconic Casablanca ‘As Time Goes By’ Piano.

The Casablanca “As Time Goes By” piano is a valuable piece of movie history. It is famous for its appearance in the iconic 1942 film Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The piano’s value comes from its sentimentality and its use as a hiding place for transit papers in the movie. 

This miniaturized upright piano is one of a kind, with only 58 keys instead of the usual 88. It was also lovingly painted with a Scandinavian-inspired folk design. The piano was sold for an impressive $3.4 million at a 2014 Manhattan auction to an anonymous buyer. It was beautifully restored, with the same look and feel as it had in the movie. 

The piano was famously played by Dooley Wilson (playing the character Sam) in the 1943 film Casablanca. It’s a one-of-a-kind piece of movie history that will be treasured by the lucky owner who purchased it.

2. The Heintzman Crystal Piano

  • Price: $3.22 million 
  • Type: Crystal Grand Piano

Heintzman Crystal Piano.

The Heintzman Crystal Piano is a special instrument that is not only valuable because of its unique design but also because of its history. It was created specifically for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and played by the renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang during the opening ceremony. 

The Heintzman Crystal Piano is a one-of-a-kind instrument made entirely of crystal, except for its keyboard and soundboard. This gorgeous creation was crafted by a Canadian producer with the goal of making the world’s most expensive piano, and it nearly achieved it. 

The Heintzman Crystal Piano was decommissioned after the performance but was later sold to an anonymous buyer for a staggering $3.22 million. It was eventually surpassed not by a piece made of more precious material, but by a piano fashioned from a reminiscence of Paris and a wonderful friendship.

The Heintzman Crystal Piano is undoubtedly a valuable instrument, both in its design and its history. From being played by one of the world’s most renowned pianists at the Beijing Olympic Games to being sold for millions of dollars, it is a true testament to the craftsmanship and creativity of the Heintzman company.

3. Steinway & Sons ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’

  • Price: $2.5 million 
  • Type: Grand Piano

Steinway & Sons Pictures at Exhibition Piano.

At Steinway & Sons, the sky's the limit when it comes to luxury pianos, and "Pictures at an Exhibition" is a testament to that. This grand instrument of art and music is the third most expensive piano in the world, costing a whopping $2.5 million.

The piano was created by Steinway's artisan, Paul Wyse, and it took him four years to complete. His hard work and dedication are certainly reflected in the finished product.

The piano was named after a musical piece written in 1874 by the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky. Its legs are adorned with Russian cuckoo clocks, and it features a velvet bench sculpted in the fashion of old Russian folk art. The piano even includes paintings from the musical piece, along with a portrait of the composer, Mussorgsky. Talk about a work of art.

If you have the cash to spare, this luxurious musical masterpiece is all yours. The piano currently resides in Steinway's vault, waiting to be purchased by someone with deep enough pockets. So far, no one has had the means to bring this beauty home. 

Steinway & Sons' "Pictures at an Exhibition" is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. From the exquisite design to the history behind it, this piano is worth every penny of its hefty price tag.

4. Steinway & Sons Fibonacci

  • Price: $2.4 million 
  • Type: Grand Piano

Steinway & Sons Fibonacci Piano.

The Steinway & Sons Fibonacci Piano is a work of art that is valued for its uniqueness and one-of-a-kind design. It took over 6,000 hours of hard work and four years of painstaking effort to create this masterpiece. 

The design of the piano is inspired by the mathematical formula developed by the legendary Leonardo of Pisa. The Fibonacci grand piano was made to commemorate the milestone of Steinway's 600,000th piano, highlighting the company's development and pursuit of perfection.

But the Steinway & Sons Fibonacci Piano isn't just valuable for its design and history, it is also worth a whopping $2.4 million. For those with a passion for music, the Fibonacci piano is a coveted item that is sure to make both Mr. Steinway and Leonardo of Pisa proud. Truly, this one-of-a-kind piano is worth every penny.

5. John Lennon’s Steinway & Sons Model Z

  • Price: $2.37 million
  • Type: Upright Piano

John Lennon’s Steinway Model Z Piano.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

John Lennon’s Steinway Model Z Piano is a valuable piece of history and a testament to Lennon’s genius. This simple-looking wooden piano was purchased by Lennon in 1970 for £1,000. It was famously used by Lennon to write his classic song Imagine and other singles. But it has another unique feature—it’s autographed by Lennon with a cigarette burn mark. 

It’s no surprise that this famous Model Z piano was highly sought after by many musicians. In 2000, George Michael outbid Robbie Williams and other musicians to buy this piano for a stunning $2.37 million. This piano is one of a kind and is worth about $3.38 million today, accounting for inflation and exchange rates. 

Not only is this piano a physical reminder of John Lennon’s musical genius and extraordinary life, but it also serves as a symbol of his legacy and impact on the world. The famous Model Z piano returned to the Strawberry Field exhibition in honor of John Lennon’s 80th birthday in 2020. So, if you’re ever looking for a priceless, one-of-a-kind piano, look no further than the Steinway Model Z owned by John Lennon himself.

6. Steinway & Sons Red Pops for Red Parlor Grand

  • Price: $1.925 million
  • Type: Grand Piano

Steinway & Sons Red Pops for Red Parlor Grand.
Source: Houston Piano

The Steinway & Sons Pops for RED Parlor Grand is one of the most valuable pianos in the world in its own special way. With a stark white body and a rich, red interior, its design alone is enough to make it stand out from the crowd. Not to mention, it was created in collaboration with legendary U2 frontman Bono, renowned designer Sir Jonathan Ive, and the luxurious piano makers themselves, Steinway & Sons. 

The unique design of the Red Pops makes it a real showstopper, and it sold for an impressive $1.95 million (about $2.34 million in today’s dollars). But that's not all; that staggering number was the result of a charity auction, the proceeds of which went to fight disease in Africa. The auction, which was attended by wealthy businessman Stewart Rahr, ended with a winning bid of more than $1.9 million, a bid that raised over $26 million for charity. 

We can all agree that owning the RED Pops Parlor Grand is equivalent to winning the lottery. It's the perfect combination of luxurious design, unrivaled quality, and good causes that make it so valuable. Who knew this luxury instrument could also make a difference in the world? It was certainly worth every penny.

7. Steinway & Sons Sound of Harmony Concert Grand 

  • Price: $1.63 million 
  • Type: Grand Piano

The Steinway & Sons Red Pops for (RED) Parlor Grand Piano.

The Steinway & Sons Sound of Harmony grand piano is a luxurious combination of art and instrument, with a hand-painted scenic design and dark wood cabinetry. The nature-inspired design features peacocks as well as a painted wooden bench with elaborately carved legs that match the body of the piano. 

But what truly makes this piano special is its backstory: the Sound of Harmony was created as a memorial to the famed Chinese painter Shi Qi and features his painting on the piano’s lid. It was purchased by art purveyor Guo Qingxiang in 2007 for a cool $1.63 million.

In a world where everyone and everything seems to be in a race to the top, Steinway & Sons is still a name that stands out in excellence and quality. Investing in a Steinway & Sons piano is a guarantee of a luxurious and timeless experience that is reminiscent of the elegance and grace of the old world—it’s no wonder the Sound of Harmony has commanded such a staggering sum.

8. Galaxy Piano

  • Price: $1.36 million 
  • Type: Grand Piano
  • Supply: 5

Galaxy Piano.

Wondering why the Galaxy Piano is so valuable? It's because it's not just an instrument, it's a luxury item. It was commissioned by the renowned sales and marketing director of Galaxy Piano, Mark Murphy himself. Not only that, the piano was crafted from fiberglass and then plated with 24-carat gold, and given an automatic lid and curved edges on the keys. 

This exquisite design makes Galaxy Piano one of the most exclusive pianos ever created—only five were ever made. Plus, the auto-play system can be controlled via an iPad—how cool is that?

But the real kicker? The galaxy piano is literally out of this world, with a history that is simply fascinating. From its cosmic origins in the stars to its shimmering gold dock, this piano is definitely the one instrument that can't be beaten. So, if you have the means, why not own a piece of history, because a galaxy piano is an investment that is guaranteed to last for generations to come.

Is the most expensive piano a good investment?

Casablanca's "As Time Goes By" Piano is a one-of-a-kind investment opportunity for movie fans and collectors. It sold for a record-breaking $3.4 million at a 2014 Manhattan auction and even came with a photo signed by Humphrey Bogart and the famous gum stuck under the keyboard.

Who wouldn't want a piece of Hollywood history to add to their collection? Plus, even though its sound quality is a mystery, grand pianos won't disappoint in the return-on-investment department—it’s likely to be worth far more in the future. Now's your chance, so don't wait for the clock to reach midnight.