‘A social experiment’: Upright piano on Sproul Plaza stolen

piano_jonas-katona_courtesy
Jonas Katona/Courtesy

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A group of UC Berkeley students wheeled a worn-out upright piano onto Sproul Plaza before dawn Sunday — within 48 hours, the piano disappeared and was most likely stolen.

The students brought the piano to bring public enjoyment, livelihood and entertainment to Sproul Plaza, according to a Facebook post on the Overheard at UC Berkeley page regarding the theft posted by Jonas Katona, a campus sophomore among the group of students who brought the piano.

Daniel Geng, campus sophomore and owner of the piano, received a notice that the piano was no longer on Sproul Plaza at about 2 a.m. Tuesday, which was when the piano was probably stolen, according to Katona. The theft of the piano has not been reported to UCPD as of Thursday morning, according to UCPD spokesperson Sgt. Nicolas Hernandez.

“It was a social experiment,” Katona said. “It’s not really a big deal for us or for the owner because it is pretty broken down.”

Although Katona and his friends anticipated a possible theft, Katona said they didn’t expect the piano to be stolen this quickly. He added that he didn’t expect the piano to make so many people happy and that its impact on students was “heartwarming.”

In response to the theft, Geng started a GoFundMe page Thursday afternoon to raise $500 for buying, painting and chaining down another piano on Sproul Plaza next week.

Karthik Shanmugam, a campus senior, said in a Facebook message that he enjoyed playing the piano and saw many others also enjoy it. But he added that he had wondered how the owners would protect the piano against vandalism and theft, saying that the theft of the piano was “inevitable.”

“I really liked the idea of having a piano on Sproul; I believe music is inherently a social thing and the piano was a great way for people at Berkeley to share music,” Shanmugam said.

Rishabh Nijhawan is the lead higher education reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @realRishNij.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrect spelled Sgt. Nicolas Hernandez’s name.