Towson, MD – A piece of musical history with remarkable ties to cultural icons John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Sam Green, and Andy Warhol is now up for auction, presenting a unique opportunity for enthusiasts and collectors. The instrument, a well-loved 1929 Baldwin Concert Grand Piano Model D, is being auctioned by Towson-based Alex Cooper Auctioneers, commencing with a starting bid of $300,000.
Though the piano displays the wear and tear indicative of a cherished instrument, it possesses an intriguing patina. Characteristic burn marks, forming a circle, perhaps from an ashtray or cigarette ash, adorn the finish, lending an undeniable charm to its character. While the top key’s hammer exhibits extensive wear, it is a key that is seldom played, if at all.
The instrument’s allure, however, transcends its physical condition, as its history is deeply intertwined with some of the most renowned figures in the worlds of music, art, and culture. This particular Baldwin Concert Grand Piano Model D was originally acquired by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1978 from the Baldwin showroom. In 1979, as an expression of their affection, Lennon gifted the piano to their close friend, Sam Green. An engraved brass plaque, positioned above the Baldwin insignia, bears witness to this heartfelt gesture, with the inscription, “For Sam/Love From/Yoko and John/1979.”
In 1980, Sam Green transported the piano to his Fire Island residence, which was frequently visited by Lennon and Ono. It was within the serene confines of this home that Lennon composed segments of his final album, “Double Fantasy,” a testament to the instrument’s significance.
Sam Green’s connections extended to the iconic artist Andy Warhol. Notably, the piano found a temporary home in Warhol’s Interview Magazine office, The Factory, where it remained until 1986. During this time, the piano played host to an array of celebrity luminaries, bore witness to significant social events, and was serenaded by hands that, one can only hope, were appreciative and respectful of its storied past.
A peculiar twist emerged in 1987 when the piano was loaned to the New York Academy of Art for “special events and creative outlets” but was subsequently sold without Green’s consent. A legal battle ensued as Green contested that the piano was a loan, not a gift. The lawsuit was eventually dropped in 2001 when it became evident that the court was not inclined to rule in Green’s favor.
Remarkably, the piano resurfaced in 2003 and, in 2018, was generously donated to the Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, with a trust deed stipulating that proceeds from its sale would establish a scholarship fund for students.
With a fair market appraisal exceeding $5 million, the starting bid of $300,000 represents a unique opportunity. However, given its storied past and cultural significance, it is anticipated that the piano will command a final sale price between $2 million and $3 million.
For those who wish to participate, online bidding commenced on Friday, September 15, 2023, with a live auction set for Saturday, September 30 at 10 a.m. at the Alex Cooper Auctioneers’ location, 908 York Road in Towson.
While this extraordinary piece of musical history may elude some due to its anticipated high value, it serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of its previous owners, allowing future generations to appreciate the profound connection between art, music, and history.