'Casablanca' piano may fetch $1M at auction

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The piano from the Oscar-winning film "Casablanca" could fetch more than $1 million when it is sold at auction in New York next month on the 70th anniversary of the premiere of the classic movie, Sotheby's said Tuesday.

The 58-key piano, on which actor and singer Dooley Wilson performed "As Time Goes By," has a pre-sale estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million for the Dec. 14 auction.

Wilson sang the song while playing the role of Sam in the 1942 film as Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, the star-crossed lovers Rick and Ilsa, leaned on the piano in a flashback to their time in Paris.

"How can anything say 'I love you' better than the piano from 'Casablanca'?" David Redden, vice chairman and director of the special projects department at Sotheby's, said in a statement announcing the sale.

The film, set in Morocco during World War II, won three Academy Awards: best picture, best writing and best director for Michael Curtiz.

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In 1988, when Sotheby's sold the piano to a Japanese collector, it fetched $154,000, the highest price ever paid for a movie prop. Interest in film props has grown since then, Sotheby's said.

Marilyn Monroe's white "subway dress" from the 1955 movie "The Seven Year Itch" sold for $4.6 million in Los Angeles last year, setting what Sotheby's says is a record price for movie memorabilia.

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