When you have more money than you need, it doesn’t take long for it to show. Did your neighbor just buy a lawn flamingo ornament, in gold? Doesn’t take a genius to realize that they have likely won the lottery or inherited a load of big ones from sweet and loaded Ol’ Aunt Sue. In any case, when you’re wealthy, you have the luxury of buying what you want, how you want it. So say you’re a piano fanatic and happen to have some spare change (times a million) lying around. Will you spend your precious cash on just a regular plain brown Yamaha? Absolutely not! You will only invest your loot in a piano that is nothing short of extraordinary. And so, for imaginary purposes, we’ve concocted a list of the world’s most expensive pianos you can buy when you’re so rich that you use Benjamin Franklin’s face as a tissue. We’ve decided to divide this list into two, because pianos that are this fabulous, valuable and glam need a spotlight of their own and can’t afford to share too much of the limelight with others. So to start, let’s start from the bottom of the diva chain and take a look at the cheapest piano (relatively speaking) at a measly 400,000 dollars.
11. Fazioli Brunei- $400,000
Meet the world’s most expensive concert grand piano! Sizing in at an impressive ten feet, it is the brainchild of Italian-based pianist and mechanical engineer, Paolo Fazioli, who is one of the most respected handmade piano manufacturers in the world. Together with a team of experts ranging from the fields of wood technology to musical acoustics, the Grand Fazioli has landed spots in some of the most acclaimed concert halls on the planet. What makes it so special, you ask? Well, for one the Grand Fazioli is specially tuned by sound managers to produce a deeper bass and mellower signature sound. And not that it needs to justify its hefty price tag to you, but for those who value what’s on the outside more than what’s on the inside, the Grand Fazioli is also decorated with more jewelry than you’ll ever own. Specifically speaking, flowers in mother of pearls and different semi-precious stones. Fancy.
10. La Mort du Cygne, Erard- $409,000
The word mahogany is one of those words that just reeks of wealth and fanciness. Sure, it’s a kind of wood, but at the same time, it’s not just any kind of wood, it’s mahogany. With that being said, let us introduce you to the one-of-a-kind hand-carved mahogany Erard piano, also named The Dying Swan, because that sounds fancy, too. The Erard masterpiece was specially customized and built in 1906 by the top crop of French artists of the time. It features a fruitwood veneer inlay that beautifully accents its striking golden-brown tan color that, hard as you try, no amount of sun-soaking will allow you to achieve.
9. The Casablanca Piano, Richardson’s Inc.- $602,500
We humans have a natural tendency to disregard things/people that seem old and past their prime. However, it is often those who don’t look interesting on the outside that are the most interesting on the inside. Enter the next piano, proudly holding its own among the fancy golden and diamond encrusted giants in our list of the most expensive and grandest of pianos. With its faded yellow-green finish, the piano isn’t really much to look at. However, it holds an enormous sentimental value for the legion of Casablanca fans. Built by Richardson’s Inc., the upright studio piano was featured alongside Hollywood icons Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in one of the most memorable movie scenes of all time – the “As Time Goes By” act in the legendary Casablanca. If there was ever a time to repeat the mantra (“Play it again, Sam”) it is now—don’t judge a book/piano by its cover!
8. Marilyn Monroe’s Baby Grand Piano- $662,500
Scientifically speaking, white is not a color, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be our favorite! There is something so elegant and feminine about white, so much so that anything it touches automatically becomes classier. The same can be said of one very classy and famous Hollywood symbol, the radiating Marilyn Monroe herself. Turns out, the icon and the color have more than class in common! The beautiful white lacquered baby grand piano pictured above belonged to the Hollywood starlet, and was one of her most loved and prized possessions. Originally belonging to her mother, Gladys, Marilyn tracked down the piano which had been sold years earlier after her mother had passed, and almost immediately it became as treasured to her as Marilyn’s iconic photo is treasured by men worldwide. The piano has even been mentioned and fondly spoken of in Marilyn’s own autobiography. Ultimately, after Marilyn’s light was tragically extinguished far too soon, the piano was bought for an astounding $662,500 by another M-named Hollywood diva, the singing siren Mariah Carey.
7. Alma-Tadema Steinway- $1.2 Million
This piano you see before you is more than a musical instrument, it`s a work of art. The masterpiece was designed in 1887 by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, a person you don’t know but whose name is definitely fancy enough to have created this piano. A century later, Steinway and Sons completed the re-creation of the exact same Alma-Tadema piano. The piano masterpiece (pianopiece, we’ll call it) features an arched brass lyre, mother of pearl laid inlaid pieces, and intricately hand-carved case, legs and lid. Now here’s a fun fact– the original piano was listed for only a measly 54,538$, but as time and inflation carried on and did their thing, the re-creation, though exactly the same, faired a little better in the music market. How much better? Well, it was sold for a nice little profit of 1.2 million $. And for that feat, it and its earlier counterpart have earned a deserving spot on this list.
6. The Kuhn Bosendorfer Grand Piano- $1.2 Million
Tying in for 6th/7th place is the Kuhn Bosendorfer Piano, though we’ve decided to give the Bosendorfer the extra kick in ranking because it’s the original and not a re-creation. Created by the widely acclaimed glass sculptor John Kuhn, and in collaboration with piano maker, L. Bosendorfer Klaviefabrik, this little err…. big gem was born. The 7’4’’black piano boasts a decorated bench with approximately 100,000 jewels polished by hand-cut glasses, because we all absolutely hate those jewels made from measly machine-cut glasses, right? And just like an actual gem, the piano is so shiny that, no you’re not seeing a double set of keys; it’s just really that dazzlingly reflective. But Kuhn and Bosendorfer didn’t stop there, oh no. Because a piano’s appeal significantly rises if a woman is on top, K&B also made sure to appeal to the ladies with none other than her best friends– patterns of diamond embedded with gold leaves surrounding a crystal. Yep, they went there.
Stay tuned for next week as we look at Part 2 of the World’s Most Expensive Pianos, the Grand 5!