Heritage Auctions Offers Sir Elton John’s Extraordinary Custom Touring Piano in Upcoming Sale

Shreeya Maskey
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“Enjoy this as much as I have, Elton John,” Sir Elton John signed in black ink, bidding farewell to the piano he used throughout the 1970s and 80s. The legendary singer-songwriter acquired the Steinway in August of 1975 after customizing the keys to be more responsive to very light touch. Heritage Auctions will offer this particular piano in its upcoming Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature Auction. The timed sale will begin at 1:50 PM EDT on July 16th, 2021 and run through July 18th.

Sir Elton John's Steinway No.426549 grand piano. Image from Heritage Auctions.
Sir Elton John’s Steinway No.426549 grand piano. Image from Heritage Auctions.

This Model D grand piano first came to auction in June of 2008, selling for GBP 17,553 (USD 24,403). It found its way to Curtis Schwartz, a producer and sound engineer who knew very little about the piano’s journey with Sir Elton John. “I was only happy it was a great piano,” Schwartz said. “I just assume Elton John would have a piano in every city, and this was just one of his, like, 122 pianos.” Schwartz bought the piano to replace the old Yamaha in his English studio.

However, this was much more than just another one of Sir Elton John’s pianos. Schwartz later discovered that John played this piano in more than 100 shows across different continents within the span of two decades. The piece accompanied John to two sold-out shows at Dodger Stadium. In October of 1975, the stadium saw the singer perform for 100,000 people, including his parents.

Sir Elton John posing with the Steinway piano. Image from Heritage Auctions.
Sir Elton John posing with the Steinway piano. Image from Heritage Auctions.

The Steinway also shared the stage with John Lennon in November of 1974. Sir Elton John was playing at Madison Square Garden when Lennon turned up to settle a bet and perform three of his songs. The performance included his hit single titled “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.” This was John Lennon’s final live performance before his untimely death. 

In 1985, Paul McCartney borrowed the Steinway during the Live Aid finale, which drew an audience of nearly a billion viewers from around the world. Freddie Mercury also played the piano in 1977 during Queen’s A Day at the Races tour.

Sir Elton John playing the grand piano at a show. Image from Heritage Auctions.
Sir Elton John playing the grand piano at a show. Image from Heritage Auctions.

Standing 8 feet 11 inches tall, this piece was crafted in 1972 in New York. The grand piano has square tapered legs and includes the original adjustable bench. Beyond Sir Elton John’s grand piano, the upcoming auction includes memorabilia from other famous musicians. Elvis Presley’s 1955 concert poster will appear alongside items from Eddie Van Halen, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. 

The Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature Auction will begin on July 16th, 2021 at 1:50 PM EDT. It will close on July 18th. For more information and to place a bid, visit Heritage Auctions.

Want to read more about interesting items crossing the auction block? After a salvaged painting traveled from a landfill to an art collection, Auction Daily examined David Bowie’s legacy as an artist and collector.

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James Ardis
James Ardis
Senior Writer and Editor

James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

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