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Lot 0520
Art Tatum's 1954 Steinway & Sons 'Model B' Grand Piano. Ebony, serial number 346057. 6' 10 1/2'' long.

Art Tatum is considered one of the world's greatest jazz pianists. He received very little formal musical training, instead utilizing his perfect pitch to teach himself to play by ear. Tatum was known for his experimental and creative playing, as well as his legendary speed and improvisational skills. Despite being nearly blind, Tatum's dexterity made him an excellent player, as can be heard on the 1933 recording 'Tea for Two,' one of his signature songs.

Ahead of his time, Art Tatum's techniques would ultimately contribute to the development of modern jazz, with aspects of his technique influencing musicians including Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Oscar Peterson. Tatum, after his sadly premature death at age 47, was recognized for his considerable talents and his contributions to the jazz world when he was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame, the International Jazz Hall of Fame, and he was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, among many other honors.

The Steinway Model B, first introduced in 1884, has since been a mainstay of the piano world. The B has also been recognized among many pianists and technicians as their favorite model Steinway. After a lifetime of piano-playing, it was this fine instrument that Mr. Tatum selected for his own home. One can imagine him working on songs and experimenting with new ideas on these keys. Because of Tatum's intense sensitivity to pitch, he insisted on frequent piano tunings. As a man who was incredibly attuned to the sound of the piano, it speaks to the excellent quality of Steinway's Grands that Tatum preferred them.

Art Tatum played with many greats throughout his lifetime, including Buddy Rich and Lionel Hampton, both of whom were amazed by his level of skill on the piano. Tatum was said to become more relaxed and confident - 'effervescent' as one reviewer put it - when playing in more private settings such as after-hours at clubs, or in people's homes. One can imagine the level of beauty and skill that Tatum reached when playing this particular piano, completely at ease, in his own home.

After Tatum's death, this piano was in the possession of his widow, Geraldine Tatum, until 2010. At that point, it was placed into professional storage, where it has remained since, amazingly part of the Art Tatum Estate for over 60 years. As one expert put it, "very few similar pianos with comparable provenance have been available in recent years."

From the Estate of Art Tatum.

Condition: Good.

Soundboard: Good
Bridge: Good
Case: Good, but with a couple of nicks
Pins: Fair
Plate: Good
Strings: Good
Hammers: Good
Action: Fair - Slightly Stiff
Keys: Ivory in good condition
Technician recently changed one agraffe.

Starting Bid

$20,000.00

Buyer's Premium

  • 25% up to $300,000.00
  • 20% up to $3,000,000.00
  • 12.5% above $3,000,000.00

Art Tatum's Steinway Grand Piano

Thu, Jul 26, 2018 5:00 PM GMT
Auction starts in
7 Days10 Hrs13 Min29 Sec
$20,0000 Bids
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65 East 93rd Street
New York, NY 10128
United States
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