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Exceedingly Rare Long-lost Ruhlmann Piano Could Fetch $600,000 at Sotheby’s

Rare Ruhlman piano that sailed aboard the legendary 1930s ocean liner SS Normandie goes for sale

Exceedingly rare, long-lost piano, created by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, a renowned French designer of furniture and interiors, also known as “Art Deco’s greatest artist” will be the highlight of Sotheby’s 20th Century Design auction on March 6 in New York. A majestic piano, one of only six known Ruhlmann pianos, and one of just three in a similar style boasts an estimate of $400,000-600,000.

Rare Ruhlman piano that sailed aboard the legendary 1930s ocean liner SS Normandie goes for sale
Rare Emile-Jacques Ruhlman’s piano that sailed aboard the legendary 1930s ocean liner SS Normandie

Made of macassar ebony and American walnut with gilt bronze and ivory accents, the piano has been first displayed at the landmark 1925 Paris art deco exposition, the significant and defining moment of French art deco.

“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,” said James Zemaitis, the auction house’s senior vice president of 20th century design. “Where the piano should go in it goes out on the side. Convex versus concave.”

Also, during the 1930’s it was housed in the ladies’ drawing room of French ocean liner SS Normandie – also known as the Queen of the Seas – which was famed for its luxurious interiors and elegant French art deco décor that were reportedly comparable to rooms at the Palace of Versailles.

“In the main room, Ruhlmann exhibited another example of this piano,” Zemaitis said. “That piano immediately became iconic because of its presence in the central room.”

This piano was purchased in the early 1940s by the Butler family, founders and former owners of The Buffalo Evening News. The piano was installed at the opulent Butler Mansion designed by architect Stanford White in Buffalo until the house was sold to a local university a few years ago.

Rare Ruhlman piano that sailed aboard the legendary 1930s ocean liner SS Normandie goes for sale
Ruhlman piano

Rare Ruhlman piano that sailed aboard the legendary 1930s ocean liner SS Normandie goes for sale

Rare Ruhlman piano that sailed aboard the legendary 1930s ocean liner SS Normandie goes for sale

Rare Ruhlman piano that sailed aboard the legendary 1930s ocean liner SS Normandie goes for sale

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Written by Slamchica

Aleksandra Arsenovic graduated with a degree in economics and has a master degree in tourism. Since she worked as a travel agent, she has traveled around the world and developed an interest in luxurious hotels and exotic destinations. As a big fashion fan, Aleksandra loves expensive and luxury fashion items. As an editor of Extravaganzi she shares her knowledge about travels, fashion and accessories.

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  1. I have a mini baby grand piano that my family believes was on the SSNormandie, maybe in the children’s room. It was purchased at auction in 1942 in NYC. Is there a catalogue of the items from SSN?

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