- Associated Press - Sunday, October 1, 2017

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The late 19th-century grand piano, built in France with exquisitely detailed satinwood and parquetry, sits on display at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

Its gilded bronze-trimmed exterior case “recalls the luxurious furnishings of the Palace of Versailles,” the museum’s website reads. And its manufacturer, Erard, was a favorite of virtuosos such as Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt.

But the owner isn’t an aristocrat or famed composer: It’s the nonprofit fundraising arm of the city’s public schools.

The piano is valued at $260,000, nearly as much as the Norfolk Education Foundation, a tax-exempt charity, raised for the division last year, according to the group’s most recent annual update to the School Board.

But it may soon have a new owner. The foundation is looking to sell it to free up more cash for the school system, interim Executive Director Carlos Clanton said. Other fundraising nonprofits linked to local school divisions do not list antique instruments among their assets, according to the most recent publicly available IRS disclosures.

“This comes up every year,” Clanton said. “It’s on the radar. We just want to make sure we get the timing right.”

Part of the delay, he said, is that he stepped down as executive director this month to take a job with another local nonprofit. Clanton said the board likely will begin crafting a strategy to sell the piano after his replacement is named next month.

“We have this great asset, and we want to make sure it’s a win-win when we sell it,” he said. “We would ideally be able to sell it to an organization that can use it.”

The ideal buyer, Clanton said, would have an expertise in antique instruments and would be willing to keep the piano available locally to the public. The foundation has housed the piano at the Chrysler Museum, and the public can hear it in action if someone asks a gallery host, according to the museum’s website.

Richard Goldbach, former CEO of the old Metro Machine Corp., and his wife, Janet, donated the instrument in 2006 after buying it in London. It was the foundation’s first gift, according to a Virginian-Pilot article.

Students have been allowed to play the piano in recitals, but it’s been used infrequently over the past few years, the division’s senior music coordinator told The Pilot earlier this year.

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Information from: Daily Press, https://www.dailypress.com/


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