‘Casablanca’ Piano Being Auctioned Off, Could Fetch $1.2M

The piano used to play "As Time Goes By" in "Casablanca" will be auctioned off by Sotheby's

Round up the usual, deep-pocketed suspects: One lucky bidder will get a chance next month to own the piano from "Casablanca."

Sotheby's will auction off the 58-key piano used in the film to tickle out the bittersweet romantic ballad "As Time Goes By" on Dec. 14. The auction house estimates that those ivories could fetch as much as $1.2 million.

A high-water mark for the Hollywood studio system, "Casablanca" starred Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as lovers whose affair is derailed by the chaos of World War II.

In a pivotal scene, Bergman urges piano player Sam to perform the romantic ballad, which triggers memories of their times together before the war.

"Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By,'" Bergman famously says.

Bogart also urges Sam to sing the song, although his line is often misquoted as "Play it again Sam." In actuality, the closest he comes to that piece of dialogue is to say, “You played it for her, you can play it for me…If she can stand it, I can. Play it!”

The piano comes to auction on the 70th anniversary of the film, which premiered on Thanksgiving Day in 1942 and went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture.

"As Times Goes By" was written by Herman Hupfeld in 1931 for a play called "Everybody's Welcome," but it is now better known for its use in "Casablanca." 

The piano was sold by Sotheby's in 1988 to a Japanese collector for $154,000. At the time, it was one of the highest prices ever for a movie prop.