Sam’s Piano from ‘Casablanca’ to Cross the Block this Autumn

Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine stands by as Sam plays the piano in Rick’s Café American in the Hollywood classic “Casablanca.” That piano, one of the most famous in movie history, will be up for auction this November at Bonhams in the “No Place like Hollywood” auction.

Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine stands by as Sam plays the piano in Rick’s Café American in the Hollywood classic “Casablanca.” That piano, one of the most famous in movie history, will be up for auction this November at Bonhams in the “No Place like Hollywood” auction.

One of the most iconic props from Hollywood’s heyday—Sam’s piano from Rick’s Café American in the movie “Casablanca”—will be going up for auction this November at the No Place like Hollywood” auction at Bonhams.

The piano, a recent addition to the auction, is one of some 30 items from “Casablanca,” coming to the auction from a private collector. Other props from the 1942 movie that earned three Academy Awards and five other Oscar nominations include the interior and exterior doors from the North African city’s nightclub, Rick’s Café American, signed photographs by the movie’s cast, a final draft of the original screenplay and passports and papers used on screen.

“We have some great pieces from ‘Casablanca,’” said Catherine Williamson, the director of entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams, who added that the piano is expected to realized $1.2 million.

The Rick’s Café piano is in working condition and was used in a concert of “Casablanca” music composer Max Steiner's in a 2006 concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

The Rick’s Café piano is in working condition and was used in a concert of “Casablanca” music composer Max Steiner’s in a 2006 concert at the Hollywood Bowl. It is expected to realized $1.2 million.

The upright piano is one of the most famous in film and plays an important role in the plot, as Sam (Dooley Wilson) played it as he sang “As Time Goes By,” the tune characters Rick Blaine (played by Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) considered “their” song. When Bergman failed to leave Paris with Blaine ahead of the German invasion of the city during the Second World War, Bogart insists that Sam never play the song again.

When Ilsa later shows up at Rick’s upscale Casablanca nightclub and casino, she asks Sam to “play it, for old time’s sake” (not, as commonly mistaken, “play it again, Sam”). When Rick hears the strains of “As Time Goes By,” he storms over to Sam to put an end to the tune. That’s when he sees Ilsa again, leading to the rekindling their romance.

There were two pianos played in the movie. A second one, used in a flashback scene in Paris, sold last year at Sotheby’s for $602,500.

The Rick’s Café piano is in working condition and was used in a concert of “Casablanca” music composer Max Steiner’s in a 2006 concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

The “No Place like Hollywood” auction is a joint venture between Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies. Last year’s “What Dreams are Made of” auction drew more than 700 bidders who bought a wide array of movie memorabilia led by the more than $4 million paid for the authentic Maltese Falcon statuette used in the classic John Huston/Bogart film.

This year’s auction will also include coveted costumes and props from such Hollywood classics as “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind.” If you have a blockbuster Hollywood-related item you might like to put up for auction, you have until August to consign items with Bonhams for this sale, if you wish.


Gregory Watkins is the editor of WorthPoint.com You can email him at greg.watkins@worthpoint.com

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