Sam's 'Casablanca' piano sells for $602,500 at auction

NEW YORK, Dec 14 (Reuters) - A piano used in the classic

film "Casablanca" sold for just over $600,000 on Friday, falling

far short of predictions that it could fetch $1 million or more.

The 58-key upright piano on which actor and singer Dooley

Wilson performed "As Time Goes By," the signature song of the

1942 film's star-crossed lovers played by Humphrey Bogart and

Ingrid Bergman, sold at Sotheby's for $602,500 including

commission.

The auction house had assigned the iconic prop a pre-sale

estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million, given some astonishing

prices attained by movie memorabilia in recent years.

In the film, the character Sam (Wilson) plays the signature

song "As Time Goes By" during flashback scenes set in Paris, as

well as in Bogart's club in Casablanca, where he and Bergman

rekindle their romance.

Bergman's memorable lines included the imploring: "Play it,

Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'"

Sotheby's had sold the piano, which was the one used during

the Paris flashback scenes, to a Japanese collector in 1988, who

paid $154,000, one of the highest prices ever paid for a movie

prop at the time.

The film, set in Morocco during World War Two, won three

Academy Awards including best picture, best writing and best

director for Michael Curtiz.

The auction house did not identify the buyer.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Patricia Reaney and Bob

Burgdorfer)