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Marilyn Monroe’s Baby Grand Piano ($662,500)

Composite of Marilyn Monroe and her white baby grand piano. 1, 2

The backstory of this white lacquered piano produced in the early part of the 20th century (original manufacturer unknown) is recounted in Marilyn Monroe’s posthumously published autobiography:

One day a grand piano arrived at my home.  It was out of condition.  My mother had bought it secondhand.  It was for me.  I was going to be given piano lessons on it.  It was a very important piano, despite being a little banged up.  It had belonged to the movie star Fredric March.

‘You’ll play the piano over here, by the windows,’ my mother said, ‘and here on each side of the fireplace there’ll be a love seat.  And we can sit listening to you.  As soon as I pay off a few other things I’ll get the love seats, and we’ll all sit in them at night and listen to you play the piano.’

Marilyn Monroe from My Story 3

Sometime later Monroe’s mother was taken to Norwalk Mental Hospital, and Monroe was sent to an orphanage. All their belongings including the piano were taken away.

I never forgot the white painted house and its furniture.  Years later when I was beginning to earn some money from modeling, I started looking for the Fredric March piano.  After about a year I found it in an old auction room and bought it.

I have it in my home now in Hollywood.  It’s been painted a lovely white, and it has new strings and plays as wonderfully as any piano in the world.

Marilyn Monroe from My Story4

In her will, Marilyn Monroe left the majority of her estate to Lee Strasberg, her acting coach and confidant. After his death, Monroe’s estate then transferred to Strasberg’s wife, Anna. Under her care, she hired CMG Worldwide to manage the licensing of Monroe’s name making Monroe’s estate a fortune.

In her will, Monroe stated that she wanted her personal effects and clothing to go to friends and colleagues.  But in 1999, Anna Strasberg commissioned Christie’s to auction off many of those items…

NPR from Monroe’s Legacy Is Making Fortune, But For Whom?5

Mariah Carey purchased the piano from the October 1999 auction stating:

I wish her things didn’t have to be auctioned off.  It’s a shame–I wish somebody had had the money to buy it all, and put it in a museum.  …Now I’m gonna take good care of it; it will end up in a museum.

Mariah Carey from Mariah Buys Marilyn Monroe’s Piano, Again?6