The 20 Most Expensive Pianos in the World
In the early 1700s, an Italian instrument manufacturer named Bartolomeo Cristofori designed the piano. The actual definition of it was “gravicembalo col piano e forte“, which translates to a keyboard capable of producing delicate and powerful sounds. It was made to fix a lot of problems with clavier items, like keeping the dynamic variation.
By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, prior to the invention of the radio, the piano served as the centerpiece of entertainment in almost every home. Nonetheless, every country that made pianos had its own distinctive design. For example, the English pianos had a heavier mechanism and a louder output, while the Austrian versions had a softer sound.
When you sit down and start playing the piano, you can let your mind focus and even relax, as this instrument needs undivided attention, leaving no room for other thoughts. Any distraction could completely alter your ability to reproduce a musical piece. One note that arrives a fraction of a second late may affect the tone of the song.
It is impossible to be self-conscious while also completely immersed in music. Self-awareness is the barrier between the artist and the instrument, as a sense of connection with it is an absolute necessity. You will be helpless in the face of the inexorable stream of rhythm, the throbbing pulse, and the otherworldly din, which will force you to let go of pent-up feelings.
Thus, instead of just being an ordinary instrument, the piano will cast a spell on you from the start. You will be captivated by it, while your fingers will become mere puppets, submissive to the pulling-strings piano. Last but not least, the keyboard will be your safe space, soothing you from head to toe.
Moreover, the piano’s sound can’t be compared to anything else on Earth, as there are few instruments that can match its melodic and dynamic range. It can sound soft one minute and dark the next. If you think you’re not moved by music, we challenge you to listen to a live performance of the Chopin Nocturne op.9 no.1 in B-Flat minor.
Pianos are also the epitome of sophistication, elevating the social prestige of whatever space they occupy. A concert grand piano’s gleaming black appearance is as striking as it gets. Therefore, given the prevalence of this one-of-a-kind instrument over the ages, it’s clear that a fine piano is a very collectible item.
However, two primary categories define the most expensive pianos in the world: those manufactured from precious elements in a special run, and those having emotional or cultural value. Together, they constitute some of the most valuable items ever, a realm only affluent collectors and museums have access to.
In light of this, the following is an inventory of 20 of the most expensive pianos in the world, along with some fascinating information on their development. Interested? Let’s tickle the ivories!
- 20. Blüthner Supreme (Special Edition With 24k Gold Inlay) – $420,000
- 19. Fazioli Gold Leaf Piano – $535,000
- 18. The ‘Tiny Piano’ – $602,500
- 17. Marilyn Monroe’s Baby Grand Piano – $670,000
- 16. Fazioli M. Liminal by NYT Line – $695,000
- 15. Bösendorfer Opus 50,000 – $750,000
- 14. Fazioli Aria by NYT Line – $795,000
- 13. Kawai Crystal Grand – $920,000
- 12. Blüthner Lucid EXO – $960,000
- 11. Steinway & Sons Alma-Tadema – $1.2 Million
- 10. C. Bechstein Sphinx – $1.2 Million
- 9. Bösendorfer Kuhn Grand Piano – $1.2 Million
- 8. Galaxy Piano – $1.36 Million
- 7. Steinway & Sons Sound of Harmony Concert Grand – $1.63 Million
- 6. Steinway & Sons Red Pops for (RED) Parlor Grand – $1.925 Million
- 5. Steinway Model Z Belonging to John Lennon – $2.37 Million
- 4. Steinway & Sons Fibonacci – $2.4 Million
- 3. Steinway & Sons Pictures at an Exhibition Piano – $2.5 Million
- 2. Heintzman Crystal Piano – $3.22 Million
- 1. The ‘As Time Goes By’ Piano – $3.4 Million
20. Blüthner Supreme (Special Edition With 24k Gold Inlay) – $420,000
In the eastern German city of Leipzig, more than 150 years ago, a piano that would outlast and redefine what a musical instrument is was born. The amazing 24k gold lid inlay on this Bluthner Supreme Special Edition is just one example of the brand’s attention to detail.
Commissioned to celebrate a landmark moment in the company’s iconic past, its stunning exterior was fashioned in the whimsical, classic French style, which draws from the Rococo’s beauty and delicacy.
Carvings pleated with real gold adorn the legs, lyre, desk, and rim. This piano has no special historical significance, but rather, thanks to the opulent materials used for its customization, it has become highly sought after.
19. Fazioli Gold Leaf Piano – $535,000
Like its namesake, this piano aims for gold. If you’re searching for a grand piano with all the bells and whistles, look no further than this handmade item, which is presently accepting orders. Paolo Fazioli initially aimed to develop a finer instrument by fusing his passion for music with his expertise in engineering.
Even though there are a lot of high-quality pianos available under the label, this one stands out since it’s covered in, you’ve guessed it, 24-carat gold leaf. This captivating piece pays homage to the opulence of French baroque architecture—think Versailles—while remaining completely contemporary in design.
Moreover, the gold leaf is protected by a clear polyester, which gives the instrument a shimmering, chatoyant brilliance that, like a beautiful painting, invites the eye to playfully move across its surfaces.
18. The ‘Tiny Piano’ – $602,500
The green “Casablanca” piano is called the “Tiny Piano” because it only has 58 keys. It was featured in the nostalgic throwback sequence at the Parisian café, La Belle Aurore. While Rick, played by Humphrey Bogart, raises a glass of champagne to Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), we hear Sam playing the instrument and get the immortal line, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
Sotheby’s originally sold it in 1988 to a Japanese buyer for $155,000. Nevertheless, in 2012 it was auctioned off again, this time for a staggering $602,500. The buyer wanted to remain anonymous.
17. Marilyn Monroe’s Baby Grand Piano – $670,000
Whenever the legend of a movie or music artist is associated with a piano, you can be sure that the instrument will command a hefty price tag. The grand piano in white lacquer belonged to the famous actress’s mother, Gladys, and was one of her most prized possessions.
The piano is currently in Mariah Carey’s possession. The artist has been very candid about how Marilyn Monroe was a comfort to her at a terrible time in her youth. And as long as people keep singing “All I Want for Christmas” every year, she won’t have to sell this beauty for cash anytime soon.
16. Fazioli M. Liminal by NYT Line – $695,000
To those who answer “yes” to any challenge, we present you with the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to go on an adventure to another galaxy!
This piano, which features a pattern that blends dark and light, is both intricate and, without a doubt, the cream of the crop. M Liminal’s distinctive case design and one-off construction create the illusion that the device effortlessly floats in midair like a dolphin.
With its tubular shape and shiny, almost wet-looking surface, this piece is meant to remind you of the ocean. However, its black-painted soundboard gives it a fiery energy, making it not only a good investment but also an amazing piece of art.
15. Bösendorfer Opus 50,000 – $750,000
In the musical community, it is well-known that a Bosendorfer piano comes with nine additional keys. However, it is also obvious that these keys will charge you. The collector’s item, Opus 50,000, created to commemorate Bosendorfer’s 185th anniversary, mixes top-quality sound with the neoclassical splendor of Vienna.
In addition to the nine more keys, this version has a variety of woods, including French burlwood, maple, walnut, and pear, which are perfectly molded together to give it a magnificent appearance, accented with hand-painted 24k gold on different body features. The design and grace of this piano’s extraordinary art case are absolutely flawless.
14. Fazioli Aria by NYT Line – $795,000
It may be true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yet it would be difficult to persuade anyone that this exquisite instrument is not gorgeous. This piece of art, which is made up of free-form curves, metals, and geometric shapes, completely changes the concept of a standard piano while keeping the top-notch sound of Fazioli.
Similar to how consonance and dissonance are arranged in music, Aria’s ideas mix uneven yet meticulous forms. The piano’s dark blue and silver reflecting surfaces help it stick out but also merge in with the environment harmoniously. In fact, all these traces of imbalance and contrast in its entire design contribute to the piano’s exorbitant pricing.
13. Kawai Crystal Grand – $920,000
Kawai was founded in 1927 and offers a vast array of musical instruments, with the flagship grand piano being the most prominent and the focus of the brand’s research and innovation. The crown jewel of this class is the Crystal Piano, an instrument with a totally clear lucite body.
By the way, “crystal” refers to the reinforced lucite alloy that the piano’s body is composed of, not the rhinestone crystals as many incorrectly believe. Despite its glass-like appearance, lucite is extremely robust and enduring, unlike glass, and can survive the thread tension on the framework as well as the tremendous vibration that occurs when a piano is played.
This beautiful grand piano combines two things that seem to be at odds with each other: clarity and reflexion. The result is an instrument brimming with the best craftsmanship and creativity, boasting a simple tone that warms the heart.
12. Blüthner Lucid EXO – $960,000
With help from Bluthner, MONAD Studio has developed Lucid Exo, the first piano ever entirely printed in 3D, making it the ultimate instrument for the tech-savvy visionaries among us. This stunning piece, which was printed using a composite alloy, challenges our preconceived notions of what a grand piano may look like.
Its rippling exoskeleton morphs into a shape that is both novel and instantly recognizable, making this piano as much a piece of genius as it is an instrument. Anyone lucky enough to catch a glimpse of EXO will never forget it, while the fortunate owner will always have custody of the most exclusive high-tech grand piano in existence.
11. Steinway & Sons Alma-Tadema – $1.2 Million
Many may not be familiar with the name Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, yet he is the one responsible for this stunning 1887 instrument. One of the most well-liked artists of the Victorian era, his work, which was praised during his time for its attention to detail and portrayals of classical history, fell into contempt following his death.
The renowned Steinway & Sons piano manufacturer has created a faithful reproduction of the original instrument, complete with an arched brass lyre, hand-carved body, legs, and cover. This exceptional work of art is adorned with almost two thousand individual pieces of mother-of-pearl. Stunning!
10. C. Bechstein Sphinx – $1.2 Million
As you might already know, the Sphinx is a legendary creature from Greek mythology. Half human, half animal, with a tendency to strike quickly and full of self-assurance, the Sphinx embodies both mystery and wisdom.
Therefore, this masterpiece by Bechstein is a true reflection of the company’s manufacturing expertise, the knowledge gained over its 169 years in business, and its capacity to continue to astound the world with its artistic flair. In 1886, the brand produced an awe-inspiring piano for the Sphinx art show in London.
Given that only one picture of the original piece survived, reproducing this artifact, from the time of Napoléon Bonaparte, with the same character was an enormous challenge. But nothing is impossible. The exquisite instrument has been re-created and is currently on exhibit at Showcase Pianos-Aberdeen Centre in Richmond.
9. Bösendorfer Kuhn Grand Piano – $1.2 Million
This jaw-dropping piano, which is decorated with precious stones, is a lavish and sophisticated piece of art, created by the legendary glass artist John Kuhn and the Austrian piano maker L. Bosendorfer.
Due to his intense playing style, the legend has it that Franz Liszt frequently needed backup pianos in order to complete a performance without destroying his primary instrument. Following the advice of his friends, the notoriously harsh Hungarian composer and virtuoso played a Bosendorfer piano, which held up under the strain of Liszt.
The one-off, all-black 7’4’’ grand piano was inspired by the Bosendorfer Model 225 and required over a year to make. Kuhn called this instrument a career highlight, adding that he gained invaluable experience working with Bosendorfer on such a fantastic piano. For the time being, Kuhn is the only co-branded artist the company has partnered with.
8. Galaxy Piano – $1.36 Million
From a distance, this could be mistaken for a made-up instrument from a Haruki Murakami novel, but upon close inspection, you’ll find that it’s actually a piano. This state-of-the-art piece features a 24-carat gold-pleated fiberglass body and was created with a focus on the finest details in mind. It also has a self-closing lid and rounded keys.
The piano manufacturer, named Galaxy, has its headquarters in the United Arab Emirates and has produced only five of these extraordinary concert pianos. However, unlike the other companies on this list, Galaxy is not an instrument maker but rather a creator of high-end home furnishings.
The Galaxy Piano, in other words, was not designed to be played but rather admired for its rounded beauty, though it does work. It also boasts an auto-play functionality that can be activated with an iPad.
7. Steinway & Sons Sound of Harmony Concert Grand – $1.63 Million
It took a group of carvers and painters years to complete this piano, which is a memorial to the renowned Chinese painter Shi Qi. It was priced at $1.63 million and was constructed in Hamburg, Germany.
The instrument’s extraordinarily acoustic tone is the result of its unique design, which incorporates no less than 40 distinct species of wood, from ebony and rosewood to ash.
The Chinese artist’s painting is included on the piano’s lid, and the brand took care that everyone knew it was created form him by stamping its name in crystallized gold rather than silver ink as usual.
6. Steinway & Sons Red Pops for (RED) Parlor Grand – $1.925 Million
It’s no secret that red is one of the most striking and powerful hues around, and the combination of red and white has traditionally been associated with wealth and extravagance. Bono, the lead singer of the band U2, asked Steinway & Sons to make him a parlor grand piano to sell for charity.
Over $26 million was raised at the auction for RED by The Global Fund, which fights AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in Africa. Specifically, Stewart Rahr spent $1.92 million on this piano. Bono and Chris Martin of Coldplay performed “Beautiful Day” and “Perfect Day” prior to the auction commencing, adding an extra level of prestige to an already illustrious event.
5. Steinway Model Z Belonging to John Lennon – $2.37 Million
We have already discussed how nostalgia contributes to the high price tag on some of the world’s most coveted pianos. This Steinway Model Z piece, which John Lennon purchased in 1970 for merely £1,000, is notable for its seeming simplicity. Nevertheless, the piano keys that the famous artist used to write “Imagine” were auctioned off in 2000 for $2.37 million.
This remarkable piece of musical history was purchased by none other than George Michael, who undercut the Oasis brothers and Robbie Williams to obtain it. He eventually gave in to the duty that came with owning such a major piece, and he donated it to the Beatles Story Museum, but not before using it to create some new songs in tribute to the old days.
This is the second item of Beatles memorabilia to sell for over $2 million in the past several years. In 2015, the drum set once owned by Ringo Starr fetched $2.1 million at auction, making it the most costly drum set ever sold at a public auction.
4. Steinway & Sons Fibonacci – $2.4 Million
The Steinway & Sons Fibonacci piano was inspired by the well-known mathematical formula developed by Leonardo of Pisa, who claimed that numbers grow in a fashion that represents a spiral, a shape employed by many artists to describe patterns in the universe since the 1200s.
The outcome is a piano with a dramatic limited-edition motif of hardwood spirals, created by Frank Pollaro. Its outside is made of the rarest woods and engraved using age-old intarsia techniques, in which the individual pieces fit into pattern templates that snap together like a jigsaw.
From idea to finished product, the Fibonacci piano took more than 6,000 hours of work over four years. It is a masterpiece that would make both Fibonacci and Mr. Steinway proud.
3. Steinway & Sons Pictures at an Exhibition Piano – $2.5 Million
Steinway’s renowned artisan, Paul Wyse, conceived, decorated, presented, and played this magnificent instrument. The piano took four years to complete, and its exorbitant price tag is justifiable due to its exquisite craftsmanship, inspired by a specific musical fragment.
The piano’s moniker alludes to a piece by the Russian artist Modest Mussorgsky called “Pictures at an Exhibition“, which was based on a musical rendition of several pictures of the composer’s friend Viktor Hartmann. This antique piano includes these paintings, as well as the musician’s portrait.
Its legs are adorned with Russian cuckoo clocks, and it also features a velvet bench sculpted in the fashion of old Russian folk art. “Pictures at an Exhibition” is presently held in the vault at Steinway, but it is still available for purchase. If you have $2.5 million sitting somewhere, you are entitled to it.
2. Heintzman Crystal Piano – $3.22 Million
Our good friends at Steinway & Sons put in a lot of hard work to create the most expensive piano in the world, but Heintzman beat them to the punch with the Crystal Grand. It was employed for the first time in public at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, touched by the magic fingers of the renowned pianist Lang Lang.
The instrument was decommissioned following the performance but was later sold at auction to an anonymous buyer for a staggering $3.22 million. This exquisite piece is a true work of art, and the accompanying price tag only increases its value. It is built entirely of crystal, except for the keyboard and soundboard.
The Canadian producer intended for this piano to be the most expensive ever, and it almost achieved its goal. However, it was surpassed not by a piece made of more precious material, but by a piano fashioned from a reminiscence of Paris and a wonderful friendship. Curious?
1. The ‘As Time Goes By’ Piano – $3.4 Million
In 2014, a $3.4 million price was put on the piano that inspired Ingrid Bergman’s iconic “Play it, Sam” line from the movie “Casablanca”. Therefore, the appraisal for this piece is unlikely to come from the instrument’s craftsmanship, but rather from the symbolic value it holds.
Adorned with Moroccan symbols, this piano is a stunning artifact of cinema, but as an instrument, it does not boast anything spectacular; it is a little upright piano with 58 keys (regular pianos have 88), which was likely designed by Kohler & Campbell.
Although “As Time Goes By” is ostensibly about a wistful reflection on a past romance, the song has come to symbolize not only the studio as a whole but also the entire Hollywood film industry. The version heard in this movie is so well-known that it serves as the official soundtrack of Warner Bros. Studios.
If you’ve ever seen a motion picture made by WB, you’ve undoubtedly heard the theme before without realizing it. It is played whenever the company’s logo is seen. An interesting story, don’t you agree?
Everything on this list demonstrates how high-end a piano can get. The truth is, people around the globe have an insatiable need for the unique and luxurious. We enjoy it in Ferraris, in buildings like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, as well as on extravagant pianos. Collectors of musical artifacts, museums, or galleries will pay millions of dollars for one. And can we blame them?