Piano used in 'Casablanca' sells for more than half a million
Prop used in 1942 classic sold for less than what was expected by Sotheby's
"Casablanca" the 1942 wartime romance staring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. Directed by Michael Curtiz, "Casablanca" won three Oscars, and is replete with memorable lines and scenes. Perhaps the most iconic scene is when Sam, played by Dooley Wilson pounds out "As Time Goes By" on a piano. The piano used in that film has now fetched more than half a million dollars in auction - something of a disappointment for Sotheby's.
One fascinating bit of trivia is the fact that the actor who portrayed Sam in "Casablanca," was a trumpeter, and not a pianist.
The 58-key piano is a memorable part of the romantic flashback sequence in Paris at La Belle Aurore, where Rick (Bogart) and Ilsa (Bergman) listen to Sam sing and play "As Time Goes By."
The piano is noted for its relatively small size and distinct hue. "Seeing the piano in real life you end up with a couple of things," David Redden, vice chairman at Sotheby's says.
"It's quite colorful, green and distressed yellow. And you don't realize how small it is, so small in fact Bogart and Bergman sort of tower over it."
Redden first auctioned off the piano back in 1988. "It was sold to a Japanese man and now it's come back to us," Redden told CNN. "He paid $154,000 for it."
At the time of the auction, a pianist played "As Time Goes By" in the Sotheby's salesroom "before the piano was spun around on the turnstile to an awaiting audience and bought by a private collector," and greeted by applause, the auction house said.
Ironically, the instrument had no significant value in the golden age of moviemaking, Redden added. "It would be re-used again and again," he said.
This doesn't diminish the prop's importance in the minds and hearts of film lovers everywhere. "The piano is a star of the film," Redden said. "The music is so emotive, so moving and the piano really becomes a symbol of the love story between Bogart and Bergman."
In a fascinating tidbit, Wilson, the actor who portrayed Sam, was a trumpeter, not a pianist, according to Redden.
"He is sort of miming the fingering. But someone else is playing nearby and he was following the real player," Redden said.
The piano's new owner, who remains anonymous -- just a "citizen of the world," like the character Rick, gets to tickle the ivories as time goes by.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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