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Rare piano up for auction after decades in Buffalo home

blog by S.J. Velasquez  • 

A rare piano set to sell for more than $400,000 at auction has been hiding out in Buffalo for decades.

The Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann-designed piano is one of six known to exist around the world, the Associated Press reports.

The piano, which sailed aboard French ocean liner Normandie in the 1930s, was purchased in the 1940s by the Butler family, which founded and owned the Buffalo Evening News until the ‘70s. The piano resided in the family’s home, Buffalo’s iconic Butler Mansion.

Sotheby’s in New York City expects the piano to sell for between $400,000 and $600,000 at auction next month.

Not only is the piano rare because it is one of a handful designed by Ruhlmann known to exist, but its shape is highly unusual.

“In a sense it’s the opposite of what a classic, say Steinway, shape would be. It was Ruhlmann’s great modernist style and innovation in the (19)20s that would come up with something like that,” James Zemaitis, Sotheby’s senior vice president of 20th century design, told the AP. “Where the piano should go in it goes out on the side. Convex versus concave.”

TAGGED: associated press, auction, buffalo evening news, edward h. butler, news, piano, ruhlmann, sotheby's

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