Władysław Szpilman’s Steinway grand piano has been sold at an auction in Warsaw for a staggering EUR 287,000 (1.3 mln PLN). According to the DESA Unicum auction house, this is the highest priced musical instrument auctioned in Poland.
The piano from 1940 stood in Szpilman’s home until his death in 2000. The composer crafted his greatest post-war masterpieces on the instrument.
Other memorabilia from the pianist were also auctioned. These were given over by his sons – Krzysztof and Andrzej.
Szpilman’s Omega watch was auctioned for EUR 55,000 and his Mont Blanc fountain pen was sold for EUR 20,000. These are the only items which survived with the composer after the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Szpilman’s manuscript “Life of Machines” was also sold for EUR 31,000. It had been sent abroad during the war, which is why it survived.
The head of DESA Unicum Juliusz Windorbski emphasized, that the interest surrounding the auction was incredibly high from both Polish and foreign collectors and cultural institutions.
He added, that the auction was a record high bid of memorabilia in Poland. The money from the auction will be used to popularize Szpilman’s work throughout the world.
Władysław Szpilman, a Polish Jew, pianist and composer hid in Warsaw after the fall of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto rising and the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. In Winter 1945 he was saved by a German soldier. Szpilman’s history was unveiled to the world thanks to Roman Polański’s “The Pianist” (2002). The film won multiple awards, including three Oscars and the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Szpilman passed away in Warsaw in July 2000.