This Piano—Purchased by John Lennon, Gifted to Sam Green, Then Loaned to Andy Warhol—Could Ring Up $3 Million at Auction

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A piano once owned by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who later gave it to art curator Sam Green who, in turn, loaned it to Andy Warhol, will be auctioned in Maryland this Fall.

The piano, built in 1929, is a satin ebony Baldwin Concert Grand Model D bought by Lennon in 1978, according to a 19-page provenance report by Karen Lile. He composed “Imagine” on the instrument.

It is being offered by Mercersburg Academy, a prestigious private boarding school, which said the proceeds from the sale—expected to reach as high as $3 million—will be used to create a scholarship fund for students.

The auction will be held September 30 at Alex Cooper Auctioneers, with online pre-bidding opening September 15.

A piano once owned by John Lennon and possessed by Andy Warhol is going up for auction. Photo courtesy of Alex Cooper Auctioneers

The piano holds a gold plaque with an engraving that reads, “To Sam Love John And Yoko 1979.” It sat at Green’s home on Fire Island, New York, until 1983 when Green loaned it to the pop artist Andy Warhol, another close friend of Green.

Warhol had the piano placed in his offices of magazine in New York City. When he died in 1987, the piano was loaned to the New York Academy of Art.

Green testified in court in 2000 that the piano was given to him when he sued the New York Academy of Art to get it back more than a decade later. The lawsuit was dismissed the following year and Green died in 2011.

The New York Academy of Art claimed the piano was a gift and said it had sold it for a few thousand dollars to an antique shop in Manhattan, reported at the time. The antique shop sold the piano to an auction dealer named Buddy Bain, before its trail went cold.

A piano once owned by John Lennon and possessed by Andy Warhol is going up for auction. Photo courtesy of Alex Cooper Auctioneers

“I am satisfied that I have traced the ownership of the piano from 1978 when John Lennon bought it to its current owners, the Mercersburg Academy,” Lile wrote in her research.

The provenance report, provided to Artnet News, reveals that the piano was then sold by Bain to Mansoor Emral Shaool in 2003, then became a part of the Shaool family’s trust and was donated to Mercersburg Academy in 2018 to fund a scholarship for the family.

“This piano holds immense historical and musical significance. It symbolizes the connection between Lennon’s artistic genius and the instrument that served as his creative companion,” the auction house wrote in the listing.

“The piano’s journey from Lennon to Green and its temporary residence with Andy Warhol add layers of cultural and artistic context to its story.”

 

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