Rare Ruhlman piano that sailed aboard the legendary 1930s ocean liner SS Normandie goes for sale
Meticulously crafted from Macassar ebony and painted oak with an American walnut veneer, a rare and grand Ruhlman piano which impressively boasts piano keys and ivory marquetry, with a beautiful patinated bronze lyre-shaped pedal suspension and sabots, is now up for grabs as the auction highlight of auctioneer Sotheby’s 20th Century Design auction, scheduled to be held in New York on March 6th. Described to be one of 6 known Ruhlman pianos, and one of just 3 in similar style, this majestic, ultra-rare art deco piano is the one that sailed aboard in the ladies drawing room of Saint-Nazaire’s built iconic 1930s ocean liner SS Normandie, also known as Queen of the Seas which was famous for its ultra-luxurious interiors which were literally comparable to rooms at the kingly Palace of Versailles. Expected to fetch as much as $600,000, this piano after crossing the auction block will join the league of historic, sought-after, high-prized pianos crossed the auction blocks, including the Casablanca piano which was expected to fetch as much as $1.2 million, the sale of Lady Gaga’s one-off Steinway Piano, the Beatles piano, and the Elvis Presley’s Grand Piano 1930 on eBay for $250,000.
Designed for an anonymous family by Emile-Jacques Ruhlman, a renowned French designer of furniture and interiors, epitomising for many the glamour of the French Art Deco style of the 1920s.
Historically, the founders of The Buffalo News, the noted Butler family of Buffalo, New York, then purchased this piano in the 1940s, when the ship’s content were first sold, and since then it has remained part of their opulent mansion.