A guide to the Casablanca piano – the most expensive piano ever sold at auction.
What is the most expensive piano in the world?
The most expensive piano ever sold at auction was the Casablanca (1943) piano, otherwise known as the ‘As Time Goes By’ piano – the one that Dooley Wilson’s Sam was playing on when Ingrid Bergman uttered one of Hollywood’s most famous lines: ‘Play it, Sam, Play “As Time Goes By.”’ It is a symbolic part of one of the greatest love films of all time, representing the love between Bergman’s Ilsa and Humphrey Bogart’s Rick.
How much did the Casablanca piano sell for?
The Casablanca piano sold for $3.4 million to an anonymous buyer at Bonham’s Auction House in New York in 2014, complete with a photograph signed by Humphrey Bogart and a piece of chewing gum stuck under the keyboard. Dr Milan, the piano’s previous owner, said that he had tried to ascertain whether the gum was Dooley Wilson’s, but was unable to do so since nobody had Wilson’s fingerprints.
When was it made?
It was probably made in 1927 by the First National Pictures studio, which later merged with Warner Brothers.
What does the Casablanca piano look like?
Unlike most pianos that have 88 keys, this upright, wooden piano only has 58. It is golden yellow, with an intricate design of Moroccan green and gold, though of course in the movie you wouldn’t be able to tell, given that it’s black and white.
What does the Casablanca piano sound like?
That is a mystery since nobody actually played it in the film. While Dooley Wilson was a talented singer and musician, he could not play the piano professionally. So the music was played by offstage by the pianist Elliot Carpenter.
Is it the only piano that appears in Casablanca?
No. There is one more, which appears in the Paris flashback scene. That one sold for $602,500 at Sotheby’s in December 2012.
How much did Freddie Mercury’s piano sell for?
Another highly cherished piano came up for sale in September 2023. The instrument in question was the Yamaha baby grand piano which was used by Queen singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury to compose a raft of the band’s biggest hits including ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
Mercury’s Yamaha went up for auction along with many other personal items belonging to the great man. It duly fetched an impressive £1.7 million, becoming one of the most expensive pianos of all time. Converted into dollars, that gives us around $2.11 million -mighty impressive, if not quite in the Casablanca league!