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Rare Ruhlmann piano to be auctioned in NYC

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 14, 2013 at 6:30 am •  Published: February 14, 2013

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — An art deco grand piano that sailed aboard the French ocean liner Normandie in the 1930s and spent decades inside a Buffalo mansion is up for auction.

Sotheby's in New York City expects the Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann-designed piece will sell for between $400,000 and $600,000 during an auction of 20th Century design works next month.

The piano was purchased by the Butler family of Buffalo in the early 1940s and for years was displayed in the Butlers' opulent mansion in the city.

Sotheby's says the piano is one of only six Ruhlmann pianos whose whereabouts are known and one of three that are similarly shaped.

"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."

Made from macassar ebony and American walnut and accented with gilt bronze and ivory, Ruhlmann first displayed the style at the landmark 1925 Paris art deco exposition.

"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."

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