Five famous pianos that have leapt in value

Most pianos are bad investments. Others end up worth millions - if they've been played by Elton John or John Lennon.

Would you consider a piano as an investment?

Richard Reason, 65, who co-owns Piano Auctions in Bedford, points out that most inherited pianos are not worth anything to others and often suffer the ignominy of costing money to cart away.

He said: “Sadly, most pianos are, at best, of mediocre quality even if they have great sentimental value they are just worthless pieces of furniture. This is because a century ago every home aspired to have a piano it is what we had in our living rooms rather than a TV. There is now a huge glut of these old pianos, even though demand has gone.”

Reason adds: “Yet if you can buy a sought-after piano which has a good name and quality build, you are buying a recession-proof investment. At worst they should hold their value, but at the top end you can expect them to rise in price. Even during a recession families tend not to skimp on education and pianos can be a big part of this.”

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Five famous pianos that have soared in value


£1.67 million

A 1970 Steinway 'Model Z’ upright used by John Lennon to compose Imagine in 1971 was sold at auction for £1.67 million £1.45 million plus commission to George Michael in October 2000. The former Beatle also recorded the single on this piano.

As Time Goes By


A piano used by the actor Dooley Wilson as Sam in the 1942 movie Casablanca sold for £370,000 at a Sotheby’s auction in December 2012. Humphrey Bogart who played Rick actually said: 'Play it, Sam’, referring to As Time Goes By, and not: 'Play it again, Sam.’ The piano was a Warner Brothers prop with 58 keys 30 less than on a conventional instrument.



A piano used by Paul McCartney for the first rendition of Yesterday sold for £150,000 in April 2011. The 1926 green Eavestaff mini-piano was owned by a friend, the singer Alma Cogan. The Beatle had dreamt of the melody the previous night while in bed and went round to her house in 1964, fearing it might have been an existing melody.

Your Song


A white 1910 “A-Day Birdcage” upright, used by Elton John in the early Seventies to compose in collaboration with Bernie Taupin, sold at auction for £91,000 in 2004. He used it to play classic pieces such as Your Song.

Contact: Piano Auctions Ltd, 01234 831742,; Courtney Pianos, 01865 790400,

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