Casablanca piano sells for astonishing $3.4 million at auction

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It’s the iconic piano where Ingrid Berman famously said, “Play it, Sam” — and it has just sold at auction for a whopping $3.4 million.

Beautifully adorned with green, black and gold patterns, the piano is one of two that appears in the classic Bogart film, Casablanca.

Catherine Williamson, the director of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, the auction house that sold the piano along with other Hollywood memorabilia, said the piano is significant because of its central role in the lengedary film.

“If there are rules to collecting memorabilia,” she told the New York Times, “some of the rules include considering how important the film is, how central a prop is to the narrative of the film, how many copies of that prop there are and how much screen time does it have. This film is really important — the characters are so good, the story is so relevant, the tension is so strong that even if you don’t know much about the beginnings of World War II, you can watch this movie and get it — this prop is central to the plot and it also has an awful lot of screen time.”

The piano is especially important, she said, because of the letters of transit that Humphrey Bogart tucks into the piano in the film.

“They’re under there while Sam plays; they’re there for all of the activity that happens in the cafe,” she said. “The piano is there. It represents the way out for them. That’s what made it so important.”

Those letters of transit also sold this week ($118,750), along with the Cowardly Lion costume from the Wizard of Oz ($3 million), posters, dresses and a boombox from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and more.

The other Casablanca piano, which only appears in the famed film’s Paris flashback scene, sold at auction in 2012 for $602,500.

Find me on Twitter at @jvanevra


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