Piano played by Sinatra sells for $23,000 as Savoy sale begins

savoy-erez.jpgA white grand piano played by Frank Sinatra sold for more than four times its estimated value Tuesday as London’s famous Savoy Hotel began selling its furniture before a massive restoration, auctioneers said.

Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin and Humphrey Bogart have used its elegant rooms since it opened in 1889; Claude Monet painted views of the River Thames from the Savoy, and Auguste Escoffier was its first chef.

The piano sold for 11,400 pounds on the first day of a three-day auction to sell the hotel’s contents before a 100 million pound restoration, auctioneers Bonhams said.

“The world has a love affair with the Savoy,” Bonhams furniture expert Harvey Cammell said.

“We always knew that this sale was going to be special and different, but frankly we have been astonished at the response to the first day of the auction,” he said.

There was standing room only for the auction in the hotel and 4,000 people paid 30 pounds for a sale catalog, Bonhams said.

There are 3,000 lots of furniture ranging from a large oak parquet dance floor that sold for 5,040 pounds to a wall mounted ashtray that went for 650 pounds, the auctioneers said.

Buyers included hotel groups bidding on collections of chairs and tables and individuals seeking to decorate their homes.

The hotel, which is owned by the Toronto-based Fairmont Raffles Hotels International Inc., closed on Saturday and is expected to reopen in 2009.