'Piano Man' Was a Hoax; Patient Pretended to Be Mentally Ill

Classic Arts News   'Piano Man' Was a Hoax; Patient Pretended to Be Mentally Ill
The mysterious and mute patient known as the "Piano Man" was a hoax, and may not be able to play the piano after all, the Associated Press reports.

He is a German national, and has been discharged from the hospital, run by the West Kent National Health Service and Social Care Trust, where he has been since April, and sent home to Bavaria.

The patient was found wandering in the town of Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in early April. He was soaking wet, and would not or could not speak. He was taken to a local hospital where workers made a piano available to him after he drew a detailed drawing of the instrument, and it was reported that he played for hours in what seemed to be a very accomplished manner.

The case became public in May, and a worldwide search, conducted with Scotland Yard and the National Missing Persons Helpline, for his identity has brought in over 200 leads, all of which led to dead ends. He was been identified as, among others, a French street musician, an Irish exchange student who lived in Norway, and a Czech keyboardist.

Earlier this month, doctors said that they despaired of ever finding out the patient's identity.

All of this changed last week, when, according a source who spoke to the British tabloid the Daily Mirror, "A nurse went into his room last Friday and said, 'Are you going to speak to us today?', to which he simply replied, 'Yes, I think I will.'"

The patient told the hospital that he was found by police as he was trying to commit suicide, and that he had lost his job in Paris.

It is thought that because the patient had worked with the mentally ill in the past, he was able to fool experts into thinking he was either traumatized or autistic. He drew the piano, he said, because it was the first thing he thought of.

Other reports have surfaced that the patient did not, in fact, give a virtuoso piano performance, but, the Mirror said, tapped at one note repeatedly. The hospital disputes this claim.

The man's name has not been released, and the Mirror also said that the hospital is considering legal action against the patient for the cost of his care.

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