Liberace piano fails the kitsch test and remains unsold at auction

THIS 1880s American lyre grand piano - a grand piano on its end - failed to sell at Phillips yesterday, even though one of its illustrious owners was Liberace, writes Dalya Alberge.

Its gilt design and carved foliage, kitsch by usual piano standards, was perhaps not over-the-top enough for collectors of Liberace memorabilia. After all, this was a man whose piano collection included one made out of 10,000 toothpicks, and whose bedroom was painted with a reproduction of the Sistine Chapel. A piano dealer in the Bayswater saleroom yesterday was straightforward in his verdict: 'It's a bloody awful piano.'

The vendor had bought it at the massive sale of Liberace's effects in Los Angeles in 1988. Several bidders at Phillips yesterday said that it would have been more appropriate for such an instrument to have been auctioned in the United States.

(Photograph omitted)

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