Lady Gaga was only 5 years old when she wrote her first song on an upright piano that her grandparents bought. Now the instrument that inspired the pop music sensation is going on the auction block at a pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to $200,000.
The piano is being offered at Julien's Auctions' "Music Icons" memorabilia sale at the Hard Rock Cafe New York on May 21. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the piano will benefit the Born This Way Foundation, launched by Gaga in 2012 to empower youth. The organization also addresses issues of bullying, poor body image, and acceptance and tolerance.
The Everett Piano Co. instrument was featured in a 2011-2012 "Women Who Rock" exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.
Gaga's paternal grandparents purchased the piano for $780 in 1966 and later gave it to her parents. Little Stefani Germanotta began taking piano lessons when she was 4 and wrote her first composition, "Dollar Bills," a year later, a song inspired by Pink Floyd's "Money."
"When Stefani started to crawl, she would use the leg of the piano to pull herself up and stand, and in doing so, her fingers would eventually land on the keys," her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, recalled once. "She would stay there and just keep pressing the keys to hear the sound. We would then start to hold her up or sit on the bench and let her tinker."
When she turned 13, her parents bought her a baby grand piano.
Darren Julien, owner of Julien's Auctions, said investors and collectors are looking for ways to diversify their portfolios and historical artifacts like rock 'n' roll memorabilia that have proven to be great investments.
"Values continue to increase due to the collectability of Western pop culture globally," he said. "Rock 'n' roll memorabilia is the new art market."
The auction also includes more than 85 Elvis Presley items, including a custom-made 1969 Gibson Dove guitar that Presley's father made for him. It was given to a fan by Presley at a 1975 concert. The guitar has Elvis Presley inland across the fingerboard and a Kenpo Karate decal (Presley was a black belt in karate). It's estimated to bring $200,000 to $300,000.
Memorabilia from singer-guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kurt Cobain, the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Michael Jackson and other music icons also are part of the sale.