Gulf sheikh commissions crystal encrusted Steinway

Gulf sheikh commissions crystal encrusted Steinway


norman lebrecht

April 15, 2015

Liberace, thy soul goes marching on.

An oil sheikh in the slave state of Qatar has ordered a grand piano, embedded with crystals, from a London firm, Goldfinch Pianos, each crystal inserted separately by hand.



The price? A mere £420,000 ($600,000).

The Qatar economy is built on tenured labour from the Indian subcontinent. The slave workers have their passports confiscated on arrival, are kept in camps outside the city and forced to work in temperatures of up to 50 degrees C.  (You won’t hear about this on Qatar-based Al-Jazeera; yes, we’ve seen it, in the company of the late Lorin Maazel).

That’s how Qatar sheikhs get to afford crystal Steinways.


(photos: Goldfinch)



  • John says:

    Liberace, where are you???

  • Rich Patina says:

    We’re all helping to pay for this piano every time we fill up at the pump…

  • Robert Holmén says:

    When they say “each crystal inserted separately by hand” it’s not like they had much choice. There really are no robots for that.

  • Erwin Poelstra says:

    Ah, this was made for the famous virtuoso, Sheikh Ali Ben Zin…

  • william osborne says:

    And on the other side of the planet, Philadelphia has 186,000 people living in deep poverty — defined as less than $10,000/year for a family of three. That’s equal to the entire population of Salt Lake City and includes 60,000 children. And yet Philadelphia has the 9th largest metro GDP in the world, and its “Mainline” area in the suburbs has one of the greatest concentrations of wealth on the planet. As in Qatar, these social conditions are a legacy of human slavery. And just as with Al-Jazeera, you won’t read much about this in the American press. Human vision is always 20/20 until it looks in the mirror.

    • John says:

      As Bernard Shaw recounted in “Major Barbara”, the poor man says to the rich man “I wouldn’t have any of your wealth, not for all my poverty!” to which the rich man replies “I wouldn’t have any of your poverty, not for all my wealth!” (It’s a paraphrase, but probably reflects the attitude of the Sheikh, whether to the poor in his own country or the poor in Philadelphia. Sad.)

      • william osborne says:

        To say nothing of the indifference 45 million Americans living below the poverty line face from their own country. That’s 16% of the population. In Philadelphia its 26%. Never mind, let’s talk about sheikhs and Shaw…

        • Greg Hlatky says:

          About the same percentage as it was 50 years and untold billions of dollars ago. The War on Poverty: the quagmire the Left loves.

  • Shirley Wu says:

    one wants to sell, and the other wants to buy. I know it hurts to know that piano retail industry has its own problems to survive right now. Those who work as sales people at Steinway you think they don’t know the difference between poor and rich? they see people who don’t give a shit about classical people able to afford the instrument and those who truly care can never afford one. And As an instrument, parents are choosing light and cheap keyboards over an expensive instrument, as a luxury item, rich people go for private jets and race cars instead of a heavy piece of furniture. The world can’t be perfect!