The 10 Most Expensive Pianos Ever Sold in the World


10-Most-Expensive-Pianos-Ever-Sold

While it’s not uncommon to see buskers and streetside musicians jamming on guitars, pianos are the most popular instruments in the world. However, these keyed instruments aren’t the most affordable option, and many of the most expensive pianos ever sold changed hands for millions of dollars.

The most expensive piano ever sold is the Casablanca (1943) piano, also known as the “As Time Goes By” piano. It sold at auction for $3.4 million in 2014, which would be about $3.8 million today. It sold at Bonhams to an anonymous buyer in Manhattan.

This guide will explore the priciest pianos ever sold, including a few options that are still available to buyers. That way, you can decide whether an extravagant piano might be suitable for your foyer or parlor room.

Here’s the List of 10 Most Expensive Pianos Ever Sold:

  1. Casablanca (1943) Piano
  2. Heintzman Crystal Piano
  3. John Lennon’s Steinway Model Z
  4. Steinway & Sons Red Pops
  5. Steinway & Sons Sound of Harmony
  6. Steinway & Sons Alma-Tadema
  7. Marilyn Monroe’s Baby Grand
  8. C. Bechstein Sphinx
  9. Fazioli Aria by NYT Line
  10. Blüthner Lucid Exo

10. Blüthner Lucid Exo

Blüthner-Lucid-Exo
photo source: Luxury Pianos

The Blüthner Lucid Exo looks like something from out of the world. So, it’s a little ironic that it’s one of the most expensive for-sale pianos on Earth!

Each Blüthner Lucid Exo is custom-made. Though the customer list isn’t public, the numerous examples of previously made models make it clear that this model is a popular choice among the world’s most elite pianists.

With a starting price of about $930,000, making it almost as costly as two luxury-quality cars.

Why It’s Expensive

This grand piano is pricey due to its unique design and high-quality components. A transparent lid and music stand sparkle in the light and draw stares from flabbergasted guests and proud owners.

9. Fazioli Aria by NYT Line

Fazioli-Aria
photo source: PFP

Though some of the most expensive pianos in the world are more than a century old, others feature a much more modern design. For example, the Fazioli Aria by NYT Line is a grand piano that appeals to fashion designers, pianists, and art collectors due to its sleek angles and contemporary chrome elements.

Unlike other grand pianos, this instrument doesn’t sit on four or more separate legs. Instead, it’s supported by a single column of black-and-silver metal, giving it a statue-like appearance that’s aesthetically pleasing and unique.

Euro Pianos of Naples sold the Fazioli Aria to a private buyer in Milan in 2016. It sold for $795,000, or about $939,000 in today’s currency.

Why It’s Expensive

The Fazioli Aria is a musical instrument, but it’s also a fashion statement and a priceless piece of decor. Its unique design and exceptional quality made it one of the most expensive pianos ever sold.

8. C. Bechstein Sphinx

C-Bechstein-Sphinx
photo source: bechstein.com

German pianos are often the most expensive in the world, due in no small part to the region’s long history of producing pianos and harpsichords. But the C. Bechstein Sphinx takes things to a whole new level.

With a $1.2 million price tag, only the most well-to-do pianists and art enthusiasts have the chance to make this piano theirs. However, the fortunate few that would like to own an exquisite grand piano can’t do much better than the C. Bechstein Sphinx.

It’s a gilded replica of a piano created in 1886. It features rich dark wood cabinetry that contrasts beautifully against its multiple bronze and gold elements. Overall, it exudes classic wealth and royal status, making it a must-have for anyone passionate about 19th-century French style and classical music.

Why It’s Expensive

One of the reasons why this piano has such a high price tag is that it took ages to create. The C. Bechstein Sphinx piano took about 1,800 hours to complete. That equates to more than two years of dedicated labor.

Its materials and components are among the priciest and most aesthetically pleasing on the planet, boasting a design that harkens back to long-ago times. As a result, this piano is the perfect complement to wood-paneled parlor rooms and refined estate libraries, making it an obvious choice for the wealthiest music lovers.

This piano would also be an unforgettable (but costly) addition to the most expensive wedding ceremonies!

7. Marilyn Monroe’s Baby Grand

Marilyn-Monroe-Baby-Grand
photo source: Marilyn Monroe Collection

Marilyn Monroe wasn’t known for her musical prowess. But the baby grand piano passed down to her from her mother was one of her most prized possessions. Unfortunately, it entered multiple auction houses after her death in 1962.

This baby grand isn’t the most beautiful piano, featuring fading white lacquer paint and chipped spots. But its significance, both as a possession of a Hollywood icon and a treasured family heirloom, has made it incredibly expensive.

In 1999, this brandless piano finally found its new home. Mariah Carey, one of the biggest music stars of the late 20th century, purchased the piano at auction for $662,000. Accounting for inflation, that comes to about $1.127 million today.

Why It’s Expensive

The primary reason why this piano commands such a high price is due to its history. It was one of Marilyn Monroe’s most prized possessions, and her fame and status have boosted its reputation to an almost legendary level.

6. Steinway & Sons Alma-Tadema

Alma-Tadema
photo source: World Piano News

You’ll find that many of the most expensive pianos ever sold are Steinway & Sons creations. This company was founded in the mid-1800s in Manhattan, but it has distinctly German roots. It’s one of the few piano producers prized for helping to revolutionize and perfect the modern piano.

As a result, every Steinway & Sons is a lingering piece of music history. For that reason, many of the pianos created by this company retail for thousands or millions of dollars. But a few pianos, like the Alma-Tadema, truly stand out.

The Alma-Tadema is an exquisitely decorated grand piano that features the work of Lawrence Alma-Tadema, a Dutch painter famous during the end of the 19th century. As such, it’s one of the oldest and most remarkable still-intact pianos produced by Steinway & Sons.

Though it survived several auctions throughout the 20th century, its 1997 sale was the costliest. At this point, The Clark purchased the colorfully painted and delicately gilded piano for $1.2 million. That’s about $2.1 million in today’s funds.

Why It’s Expensive

The Alma-Tadema features priceless work by a long-deceased 19th-century painter, but it’s also decorated in mother-of-pearl and golden paints, making it gloriously opulent. The combination of artistic mastery, high-quality materials, and age make this instrument exceptionally pricey.

5. Steinway & Sons Sound of Harmony

Sound-of-Harmony
photo source: Luxury Pianos

Some pianos are just as much works of art as they are instruments, and this is certainly true of the Steinway & Sons Sound of Harmony grand piano. Lovingly handpainted with scenes of natural beauty that blend seamlessly into the dark wood cabinetry, this piano is truly an artistic achievement.

It also includes a painted wooden bench with ornately carved legs that match the body of the piano. The natural-colored peacocks that seem to chase one another around this piano’s exterior and internal panels are just as delicate as the dulcet tones produced by each keystroke.

Consequently, this piano appealed to both art collectors and professional pianists. But expert art purveyor Guo Qingxiang was the lucky person who wound up with this instrument. Still, it didn’t come cheap.

Sound of Harmony sold at auction in 2007 for $1.63 million. In today’s money, that would be an astounding $2.23 million.

Why It’s Expensive

There are quite a few reasons why this grand piano is one of the most expensive instruments on the planet. Firstly, it features one-a-kind paintings that are essentially impossible to replicate.

Secondly, it’s a Steinway & Sons creation. These piano makers are internationally renowned for their high-quality instruments. When you buy a Steinway & Sons piano, you’re not only buying a set of keys and strings—you’re buying excellence.

4. Steinway & Sons Red Pops

Steinway-Sons-Red-Pops
photo source: Houston Piano

The Red Pops piano (also called Red Pops for RED) is a grand parlor piano with a straightforward two-tone design. It features a stark white body and a rich red interior. This color scheme was well-chosen, as it was designed explicitly for sale at the 2013 RED charity auction.

This instrument is the result of a multi-person collaboration that includes music legend Bono, high-class piano makers Steinway & Sons, and celebrated designer Sir Jonathan Ive. When it landed on the auction floor, bids started rolling in at an unprecedented rate.

This piano sold for $1.95 million back in 2013. Accounting for inflation, that works out to about $2.34 million today. As such, it’s easily one of the most expensive pianos ever sold.

Why It’s Expensive

This Steinway & Sons piano was partially designed by U2 music legend Bono, which increased its initial cost by several hundreds of thousands of dollars. It also features a unique, bright red design that drew eyes and opened checkbooks.

But the primary reason why this piano sold for millions was that the funds were going toward a good cause. Of course, it helps that it was backed by one of the world’s most famous musicians!

3. John Lennon’s Steinway Model Z

John-Lennon-Steinway-Model-Z
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

John Lennon was one of the integral members of the beloved British band The Beatles. While his songwriting and guitar playing was infamous, he was also well-known for his captivating piano skills.

As such, it should come as no surprise that his piano, a Steinway & Sons Model Z upright, would fetch a high price.

Priced initially at £1,000 in 1970 (the year Lennon bought it), this piano is far less eye-catching than many other expensive pianos on this list. In fact, upon first glance, you might easily mistake it for a standard brown-stained upright worth about $800.

It’s even marred by a collection of cigarette burns left by the artist himself. While this common appearance and unsightly scarring might lower the price of most instruments, it makes this Model Z piano one of a kind.

Still, finding buyers willing to invest in this piece of musical history wasn’t easy. After Lennon died in 1980, the piano was put up for sale at multiple auctions. Fortunately, in 2000, it sold to another music icon, George Michael.

But the Wham singer didn’t receive a special discount. Instead, he spent a total of £1.45 million on the piano. Accounting for inflation and exchange rates, that equals about $3.38 million today!

Why It’s Expensive

Anything belonging to an international rock star is bound to command high prices, especially if the artist has passed away.

John Lennon’s piano is a physical remnant of his musical genius and extraordinary life, making it a national treasure and any Beatles fan’s dream come true. For that reason, interested buyers are more than willing to pay millions to own it.

2. Heintzman Crystal Piano

Heintzman-Crystal-Piano
photo source: Online Pianist

The Heintzman Crystal Piano enjoyed only a short time in the limelight, as it was created specifically for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Played during the opening ceremony by renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang, this transparent and shimmering instrument captivated music lovers and sports fans alike.

But this unique instrument never enjoyed another public concert. Instead, it entered auction after the 2008 games, selling for a remarkable 22 million RMB (about $3.46 million today). Unfortunately, the private buyer is still anonymous, so there’s little chance the world will ever get to set eyes on this gorgeous piano again.

Why It’s Expensive

A fully customized instrument made explicitly to celebrate the Olympics is bound to command a high price. When you add a unique and aesthetically design to the mix, prices are bound to skyrocket.

Additionally, the 2008 Olympic Games heralded the first year that China hosted the games. As such, the piano became a valuable memento of the nation’s first Olympic Games, making it a nearly priceless national artifact.

1. Casablanca (1943) Piano

Casablanca-Piano
photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Pieces of movie memorabilia often sell for incredibly high prices. While movie replicas can be expensive (with most items ranging between $100 and $1,000), authentic items used during filming sell for thousands and sometimes millions of dollars.

After all, while a replica prop or costume might look and feel like the real thing, items that made contact with Hollywood stars hold a certain mystique that’s irreplaceable and unreplicable. This sentiment is certainly true of the Casablanca piano, a small wheeled upright lovingly painted with a Scandinavian-inspired folk design.

The piano itself isn’t much to look at, especially when placed next to an opulent grand piano. But its societal, historical, and filmographic significance cannot be overstated.

That’s because this piano featured in the classic 1943 film Casablanca, a film that featured Hollywood legends like Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. As a result, it’s a physical relic of the Golden Age of Hollywood, making it a rare commodity that exudes an unmistakable charm.

Also called the “As Time Goes By” piano, this instrument was sold to an anonymous buyer at a 2014 Manhattan auction for a jaw-dropping $3.4 million. That’s about $3.8 million today when accounting for inflation. That price makes this recognizable piano is more costly than the world’s most expensive birthstones, including high-quality rubies!

Why It’s Expensive

The primary reason why this piano is expensive is because of its historical and filmographic significance. Few items dating back to the Golden Age of Hollywood remain available to collectors and investors, so when this piano went up for auction, its price soared.

It’s also worth mentioning that this piano included the original bench seat and was beautifully restored, making it a gorgeous addition to any wealthy film buff’s living room. It was played by Dooley Wilson (playing the character of Sam) in the 1943 film Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart leaning against the instrument’s hinged lid.

Choose an Expensive and Well-Made Piano

The most expensive pianos tend to have historical or societal significance. But a luxury-quality piano’s unique design and lavish materials also contribute to its price tag.

Either way, you can tickle the ivories in style and decadence by investing in one of the priciest pianos ever sold! That said, you might need to convince the current owner to sell, which can be tricky.

Living a lavish lifestyle starts with knowing what to buy. So be sure to check out the most expensive lifestyle items now to learn more!

Eric Lyons

Eric is a subject-matter expert on the world's most expensive luxuries and collectibles. He has explored thousands of luxuries and collectibles over the past few years and now brings them to readers around the world.

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