Julien’s Auctions is selling a unique upright piano previously owned and played by Liberace. The instrument features in their upcoming Music Icons Auction. As can be seen, this instrument has been decorated in a most flamboyant manner in keeping with Liberace’s unique extravagant style.
The piano (serial no. 18038) was made by the Howard Company of Cincinnati in around 1902, and is one of their Model J “Cabinet Grand” uprights. The Howard Piano Company was established in 1895, and their instruments were sold by Baldwin as a more affordable alternative to the their own (then) more up-market instruments. In later years Howard manufactured some of Baldwin’s Acrosonic pianos.
Liberace regularly used Baldwin pianos, and one can surmise that Baldwin would have procured this instrument for the artist.
Bring on the Bling
This piano is 100% Liberace! It is painted white and copiously decorated with rhinestones. Gilding, red tassels, and rope braiding add to the glitz.
“LIBERACE” is spelt out in rhinestones on the nameboard. And inside the lid, the pianist has signed the instrument and drawn his famous grand-piano-with-candelabra motif. It is dated 1978.
The rear of the piano is covered with a white cloth into which is embroidered the name Anna Nateece. Nateece was a top fashion designer and became couturier and close friend to Liberace for much of his career. It is not clear whether she had a hand in the design of this instrument.
Accompanying the instrument is a plush matching piano stool. Again it is heavily decorated with rhinestones and tassels. The three legs feature gilded iron feet each grasping a glass ball.
The term “cabinet grand” was used in the early part of the twentieth century to describe a large upright piano. These instruments were taller than the average upright, and so could employ longer strings, often equivalent in length to those of a small grand.
This piano has been modified by the addition of tacks to the felts of the hammers. This gives a harder more percussive sound akin to a bar or pub piano.
Liberace’s customised upright piano appears as LOT 359 of Julien’s Auctions Music Icons Sale. This is an online auction and closes on 19-June-2020 at 10:00 AM PDT (5:00 PM UTC).
The sale price is estimated at $20,000 – $40,000.
Photos: Julien’s Auctions.