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One of the piano props used in the classic 1942 film Casablanca sold for just over $600,000 at auction, falling short of Sotheby’s high estimate.
Prior to Friday’s auction, David Redden, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman, was optimistic that the piano could sell for $1.2 million at the most. “The estimated price for the piano is $800,000 to $1.2 million,” he told CNN. “But I don't want to speculate and scare people from bidding.”
The auction was announced late last month. It was the first time the piano hit the auction block since 1998, when a Japanese collector paid just $154,000 for it, which was at the time the highest price ever paid for a piece of movie memorabilia. The current record holder is the $4.6 million paid for Marilyn Monroe’s The Seven-Year Itch dress in 2011.
According to The New York Post, the auction started at $350,000.
The small green piano, played by Dooley Wilson in the film, has 30 less keys than a normal piano. Pianist Rachel Kaufman was on hand to play the piano. “It was very emotional to play. I’m still choked up,” she told the Post. “There’s something magical about this piano.”
In Casablanca, the piano can be seen when Wilson sings “As Time Goes By” for Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Casablanca remains one of the most romantic films of all time and won three Oscars, including best picture, best screenplay and best director for Michael Curtiz. This year, it celebrated its 70th anniversary.