Elvis Presley Leaving Country Music Hall of Fame

Elvis Presley’s gold-leaf piano leaving
Country Music Hall of Fame

Unloading a $3.5 million piece of rock ‘n’ roll history
ain’t easy.
Terri Fenn has tried
Craigslist. EBay. Mailers
to record labels that include Disney, BMI and Sony. Phone calls and emails to the
Grand Ole Opry, Graceland and wealthy private investors.
And still Elvis Presley’s
famed 24-carat-gold-painted grand piano, a first-anniversary gift from
Priscilla, sits in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum — for now.
Fenn, a Smyrna Middle School
family and consumer science teacher, has until Sept. 3 to fulfill her contract
to sell it, one she landed by being the friend of a friend and enjoying ties to
Nashville’s music and real estate industries.
After that, it goes to a major
auction house and, presumably, someplace other than the Country Music Hall of
“It could go to a
Japanese investor. They love Elvis,” Fenn said. “Japanese are the
number one collectors of Elvis stuff. I obviously have to sell it to whomever.
But I think we could all agree that it should be at the Country Music Hall of
She’s already been
contacted by a producer from A&E “Shipping Wars,” wanting a
heads-up when it leaves the hall.
The family of Russ Kemppel, an Akron, Ohio,
 who died
in January 2012, owns the piano. Kemppel bought the piano for $2 million. He
moved it out of Graceland, Presley’s Memphis estate, 22 years ago and
leased it to the hall for $1, said Scott Ferrell, Kemppel Industries’ CEO
and executor of the estate.
Now the family would like to
sell. Ferrell said he connected with Fenn in an effort to keep the piano in
Nashville, but he’s given the required 90-day notice to end the hall’s lease. 

Museum director Kyle Young issued a statement this morning:

“Though it wasn’t
considered a key piece in the collection from an historical perspective
—along the lines of Bill Monroe’s Loar, Maybelle Carter’s
L-5, Earl Scruggs’ Granada or countless other instruments we display —
nevertheless it is a marvelous piece of popular culture and our visitors
enjoyed seeing it.
“We are grateful to the
piano’s owners for loaning it to the museum for so many years and, if it
does indeed sell, we will be sorry to see it go.”

(c) by Heidi Hall
Submit by Marty Martel

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