🎹 Top 12 Most Expensive Pianos | World's Most Expensive Pianos 🎹

If you’re even a moderate internet user, odds are over the last four or five years you’ve probably come across an article or video covering some of the world’s most expensive instruments. Pianos happen to stand out in this regard due to their size, cost to manufacture, and cultural significance throughout much of the world.

We checked out a number of these types of articles that address pianos specifically and frankly found many of them lacking. Our impression was that the articles we sampled hadn’t been written by someone who was actively involved in the piano industry or even knew much about pianos in general.

So, we decided to put an article and video together addressing this from an insider’s perspective. Without further ado, here is our list of the world’s most expensive pianos.

Top 12 Most Expensive Pianos – Background

Top 12 Most Expensive Pianos
Top 12 Most Expensive Pianos

When it comes to collectability and potentially extreme pricing, it’s quite interesting to note that the piano industry behaves and operates unlike any other industry on earth.

The pianos that we’ll be discussing in this article are highly valued for a wide range of reasons, and in many cases, the high price tag has little to do with the actual performance or build quality of the instrument. Instead, in some cases it comes down to the uniqueness of a given piano, its place in popular culture, or simply, who previously owned the piano.

While the above factors could be applied to automobile collecting to some extent, the world’s most expensive cars are of extremely high quality and great scarcity above all other considerations.

We’ve selected 12 pianos for our list, and while some of these may be familiar to people who are really into piano memorabilia, odds are you’ll be hearing about some of them for the first time.

#1. Casablanca Piano

Sold Price: $3,400,000 USD

The first on our list is the single most expensive piano that has ever been sold – the prop piano that was featured in the very famous scene from the Hollywood film Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart.

There are a couple of very interesting things to note about this piano. First of all, since it was merely a prop piano, it wasn’t actually a real acoustic piano. It’s not even known to the public whether or not the piano was even functional. It started as an authentic piano, but the prop department altered the size and width to fit the shot, reducing the number of keys from 88 to a mere 15.

The sound heard in the film during the scene was definitely not coming from the prop piano but was overdubbed after the fact by a musician who was playing a real instrument.

The Casablanca prop piano sold at auction for $3,400,000, making it by far the world’s most expensive piano even though, ironically enough, by most technical measures it wasn’t even a piano.

#2. Heintzman Crystal Piano

Sold Price: $3,220,000 USD

The second piano on our list is the Heintzman Piano Company Crystal Concert Grand Piano which was specially constructed for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This piano was performed on by Lang Lang, and was a major feature of those opening ceremonies.

Details of the piano itself however are rather hard to come by. First of all, Heintzman at that time was technically a Canadian-owned enterprise, but the pianos themselves were being manufactured in China at the Beijing Sihai factory. A dedicated portion of this factory actually housed some of the original equipment and presses which had been brought over from Canada.

Now, this is where this piano gets interesting; it has never been confirmed that this piano was actually made of crystal despite rumours and buzz circulating that it was. In fact, we’re really not sure how a manufacturer could go about building a piano like this from crystal. In all likelihood, we have a strong suspicion that this piano is an acrylic instrument that was simply described as a crystal piano.

Kawai for example also manufactures instruments marketed as crystal pianos, but they’re very open about the fact that the piano is made from acrylic. Instead, Crystal Piano is a generic label that floats around and gets applied to a number of different manufacturers’ acrylic pianos.

In any case, this Heintzman acrylic piano went up for auction shortly after the 2008 Olympics and sold for $3,220,000 USD after only having been played once in public once by Lang Lang. As a piano itself, we know that the Heintzman was producing lower mid to mid-tier instruments at that time.

It’s unknown whether this instrument received any different internal components than a standard Heintzman in terms of the soundboard or strings. Most assuredly it received an enormous level of prep to achieve a state of concert readiness for a performer of Lang Lang’s pedigree, but other there isn’t much else known about the instrument itself.

#3. C. Bechstein Louis XV

Sold Price: Approx $3,000,000 USD

Number three on our list is an instrument that requires some digging to get information on, and that would be the C. Bechstein Louis XV.

This instrument exists in two examples currently, and it is our understanding that upon request and a little bit of arm wringing, Bechstein is still capable of producing additional replicas. The original Louis XV piano was a gift from the C. Bechstein company to Queen Victoria upon the opening of C. Bechstein’s new London showroom and concert hall back in the late 1800s.

C. Bechstein spared literally no expense in putting this instrument together that essentially epitomizes the term luxury piano. At the time of its manufacturer, C. Bechstein was on pace to become the preeminent luxury brand retailer on both the English and European side of the channel with high sales volume in Germany, France and Britain.

The entire piano is covered in 24-karat gold leaf top to bottom including the plate, inner and outer rims, and all of the legs. The real centerpiece of this instrument however is the carpentry. This instrument was not simply a stock version of one of the company’s pianos with a veneer on top but rather built from scratch with a unique design and intricate Louis-style carvings.

A complete work of art in every sense of the word, and when celebrating a major anniversary in the early 2010s, Bechstein got the idea to recreate this piano, and they did so in painstaking detail taking over three and a half years to build. Today it occupies the Potsdam Palace in Germany.

While this piano has never been sold, experts estimate that if it were to go to auction it would sell for around $3,000,000 USD.

#4. NY Steinway & Sons ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ Model D

Price: $2,500,000 USD

The next two pianos are recently manufactured limited edition pianos, both from the Steinway & Sons Company in New York. Both pianos are 9’ concert grands, and both were commissioned instruments in which they collaborated with well-known artists to create a one-of-a-kind instrument.

In this case, we’re looking at a standard Steinway D that has been adorned by a breathtaking hand-painted finish. Our understanding is that neither one of these instruments at this point has been sold, so the market price that Steinway has assigned to these instruments is their best guess.

The first is a piano entitled Pictures at an Exhibition, and this was handed to the artist, Paul Wyse, to execute. With intricate, painstaking detail this piano depicts the story of Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”. Both the inside and outside of the lid have been painted, as well as the entire outside rim of the instrument. The legs have been adorned with very intricate carvings and other almost prop-like structures and figures.

As a point of interest, this piano is very fascinating, but it is difficult to picture in someone’s home as opposed to a museum. Steinway has assigned a value of $2,500,000 USD to this piano.

#5. NY Steinway & Sons Fibonacci Model D

Price: $2,400,000 USD

Number five on our list is the Fibonacci Steinway piano, which was created to celebrate the 600,000th piano manufactured by Steinway. This project was handled by artist Frank Pollaro, and he came up with the concept of depicting the Fibonacci sequence through veneer.

Literally, thousands of pieces of veneer and multiple types of wood went into this piano to create one of the most intricately designed piano veneers we have ever seen.

This one clocks in just below the other Steinway with an assigned value of $2,400,000 USD.

#6. John Lennon’s Steinway Model Z Upright

Price: $2,300,000 USD

Up next is John Lennon’s Steinway & Sons upright piano. Steinway upright pianos as musical instruments are certainly well-known, and from a musical standpoint have always been regarded as being adequate, but they’ve never received the same esteem as Steinway’s high-end grands.

John Lennon’s Steinway Model Z was the piano used to write “Imagine” on and is “adorned” with real cigarette burns from John, so this is a case of value being entirely tied to who owned it. When it went up for auction, George Michael paid an astounding sum of $2,300,000 USD to take possession of this instrument.

For a time, George Michael had this piano in his personal possession and was using it to write and record some of his own music. He eventually decided to show it off and it subsequently made stops in various museums and other music memorabilia places around the world.

The piano on its own is a relatively short console-style piano, and again, the value is really not based on the level of intrinsic musical qualities but rather that one of the four Beatles owned and composed on it.

#7. Gold Leafed Schimmel Pegasus Galaxy Grand

Price: $1,365,000 USD

Number seven on the list is a bit of a head-scratcher because it’s clearly a Schimmel Pegasus which has been gold leafed by another company that then resells it, but this isn’t explicitly stated anywhere online.

The Pegasus piano is a fiberglass instrument in a very unique shape built by German piano maker Schimmel and available in two different colors. In fact, a couple of Pegasus models have been sold in Toronto in the last few years.

Middle-Eastern-based luxury retailer Galaxy is obviously taking these instruments, making physical modifications, and gold-leafing them from top to bottom. They also install a player piano system and a self-closing lid.

So, this is certainly a high-quality instrument that also happens to look very slick, and it should also be fairly collectible as time goes by, but still a little odd that something so easily recognizable as a Schimmel product receives no mention as to the original piano manufacturer anytime this Galaxy piano appears on a list.

#8. C. Bechstein Sphinx Grand

C. Bechstein Sphinx
C. Bechstein Sphinx

Price: $1,200,000 USD

Next on the list is another instrument from piano brand C. Bechstein – the Sphinx piano. This instrument receives quasiregular production and can be ordered directly from Bechstein for about $1,200,000 USD. This instrument is not nearly as intricate as the Louis XV as opposed to utilizing a bespoke design and building it from scratch, the Sphinx is an aesthetically enhanced C. Bechstein B212.

This, of course, isn’t a bad thing considering that the B212 is often considered one of the best pianos as far as 7’ grands are concerned, but it speaks to why the Louis XV is almost 3x the price.

So, they’ve taken a B212 and adorned it with some very intricate inlay work, additional carving and accoutrement to the case of the instrument and to the piano bench, really giving it a look that crosses between a French and Egyptian aesthetic.

The C. Bechstein Sphinx comes in at $1,200,000 USD for a new piano and in addition to its striking appearance, it happens to be a musical giant and one of the highest quality 7’ pianos in existence today with Val Di Fiemme soundboard, Bechstein-made walnut hammers, and one of the most intricate rim designs of any grand piano.

#9. Kuhn Bosendorfer 225 Grand

Price: $800,000 USD

The next two pianos on our list both happen to be Bosendorfers built in the historic city of Vienna. Number 9 is the Kuhn piano; Kuhn was the name of the designer who took a Bosendorfer 225 and essentially built gigantic diamond shapes out of a number of smaller crystals onto the side of this instrument.

This piano sold in an auction for $800,000 USD, and while this is undoubtedly a staggering amount of money to pay for a piano, this felt way short of Bosendorfer’s initial $1,200,000 USD estimation of value.

While striking, the issue was likely that the instrument as a whole didn’t look dramatically different from a stock 225 available for a mere fraction of the price.

#10. Bosendorfer Opus 50 Grand

Price: $750,000 USD

The next piano on our list is the Bosendorfer Opus 50, which was the 50,000th piano built by Bosendrofer. This piano features a lovely design utilizing a tremendously high level of craftsmanship and veneering. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the Fibonacci Steinway in that the center focus of the instrument is the woodworking veneer on the outer case.

This piano sold for about $750,000 USD, and to us, the high price tag is much easier to stomach than the Kuhn Bosendorfer.

#11. Marilyn Monroe’s White Baby Grand

Price: $695,000

The next one on our list is Marilyn Monroe’s White Baby Grand Piano. This one is particularly fascinating because we have absolutely no idea what type of piano this is or who even built it.

It was definitely at one time a functioning, working piano, though we suspect it was probably American-built and of average build and sound quality. It could have been something like a Wurlitzer or a Baldwin, but we really don’t know because the branding was stripped away long ago. The plate was also stripped of its branding and serial number, so any identifying marks are absent.

Mariah Carey paid quite a handsome sum of $695,000 USD for this piano simply because Marilyn Monroe previously owned it. Unlike John Lennon’s piano which was associated with a famous musician and famous song, this piano was simply owned by a famous pop culture figure who was not even a musician.

#12. Fazioli M. Liminal Grand

Price: $500,000 USD

The final piano on our list is the Fazioli M. Liminal. This is a shorter piano coming in around 6’ with a very sleek and futuristic black fiberglass appearance.

In fact, it almost looks like a sort of spacecraft, but we don’t do that in any type of disparaging way – this instrument is very cool.

Only a few of these were made, and they were available for $500,000 USD during their short production run.

Closing Thoughts

This concludes our list of the world’s most expensive pianos. We certainly had a lot of fun doing the research to compile this list, and was nice to look at some non-Kawai and Yamaha pianos for a change!

Thanks for reading!