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Pop-Up Pianos by Famous Designers Attract Few Auction Bids

"Manhattan Rhapsody," by Scott Taylor, is among 10 pianos from a public art exhibition up for auction.
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Sing for Hope

TRIBECA — The decorated instruments that graced the streets of New York this summer as part of the Pop-Up Pianos public art project need a new home — but hardly anyone is stepping forward to offer one.

Diane von Furstenberg's chic black-and-white piano, Isaac Mizrahi's sparkly pink baby grand and eight others have received only a handful of bids since they went up for auction two weeks ago.

As of Wednesday afternoon, less than 24 hours before the online auction closes at noon Thursday, just three people had bid on von Furstenberg's piano, with a top bid of $3,250. Only three had bid on Mizrahi's, with the highest offer being $2,750.

Both pianos are valued at $10,000, according to Sing for Hope, the nonprofit that sponsored the Pop-Up Pianos project.

"We were a bit surprised," Johanna Brickey, head of development for Sing for Hope, said of the lukewarm bidding.

"But buying a huge piano, especially for New Yorkers, can be somewhat challenging. Perhaps people didn't want to make that kind of commitment."

The proceeds from the auction will go to Sing for Hope's Art U! program, which teaches art to students in underprivileged New York City schools.

The piano that had received the most bids as of Wednesday afternoon was "Manhattan Rhapsody," a baby grand with a jagged black-and-white design by Scott Taylor, which had reached $2,750 with five bids. It is valued at $8,000.

Several of the other hand-painted pianos are poised to sell for just $1,000.

Sing for Hope is retuning and refurbishing the pianos at a TriBeCa warehouse to prepare them for the buyers, removing any wear and tear from their two weeks on the streets. The other 78 Pop-Up Pianos from the project will be donated to schools and community organizations.

Brickey is hoping for a last-minute bidding rush before the auction closes at about noon on July 14.