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John Koch Antiques

John Koch Antiques

201 West 84th Street
New York, NY 10024
212 799 2167
kochantiques.com
Hours:
M-Tu 11am-5pm; W-Sa 11am-7pm; Su 12pm-5pm
Established: 2002

An enticing and eclectic mixture of items caught my eye as I walked into John Koch Antiques. There was a dollhouse in the front window filled with crystals, a collection of animal skulls on the wall with differently shaped horns, and old Victorian medical equipment. The last, Kevin Creighton explained, was acquired for the film “The Knick” featuring Clive Owen, which takes place in the Knickerbocker hospital in the early twentieth century.

Kevin, who manages the 84th Street shop, joined John after working in advertising for luxury goods and as an assistant to a set decorator. He said that most of the store’s business comes from both the television and film industry. This relationship began in the late 1980s when Woody Allen was filming Crime and Misdemeanors. Since then, John Koch has provided the props for most of Woody Allen’s New York-based productions. The antique store has also worked on Coen Brothers movies and various soap operas. There are times when John will purchase extensively for one production and auction off anything that is not used. Many of the store’s pieces come from estate sales – and since they have been in business for so long, they now find that lawyers contact them when something important becomes available, rather than the other way around.

One of the few items not for sale is the huge “We Try Harder” sign above one of the archways in the store, an advertisement for Avis. The set dresser for the TV show The Good Wife, who has worked with John Koch Antiques on several occasions, mentioned once that no one should be allowed to buy it, because it should be John Koch’s motto. Another piece that sounded intriguing that was not for sale, Kevin told me, was stationed at the Connecticut store, Scott and Bowne. It is an old traveling movie house, constructed from a huge circus top that turns into a tent.

John Koch began his career by working for a moving company, where he learned the best ways to handle and deliver antiques. He opened his first antique shop in a 24th Street loft in 1985, back when prostitutes and drug dealers roamed the streets outside. Although he did not have a store front, word of his business spread, and soon limousines were pulling up with people eager to visit and take advantage of John’s services. He then opened a location and warehouse in Summit, New Jersey followed by one in Harlem. John Koch Antiques then moved to its current location in 2003. The 84th Street spot became so popular that John Koch closed the Harlem warehouse. The Kent, Connecticut store opened in 2013.

Kevin delights in sharing stories about the fascinating people that he gets to interact with each day. In addition to people from the entertainment world, there are quite a few eccentric collectors. “They are colorful people,” Kevin said with a smile. One of Kevin’s most amusing tales, however, involved Louis CK, a frequent customer. The comedian, who used the store as a location for his TV show, once stopped in to look around and focused his attention on a Victorian portrait. The picture is something of a joke to those in the shop, since everyone was convinced that the unfortunate woman depicted in the picture was actually a man. Louis CK was so taken by the poor, handsome creature that he bought it.

One of the more interesting aspects of Kevin’s job is that he gets to know people who have passed away through the items they leave behind. He went on to chat about an extravagant estate on Central Park West that contained a collection of wigs, a $30,000 dollar tea set, and an emerald cut eternity band. Laughing, he went on to say that sometimes he is called upon to clean out an estate, literally. Apparently, he is no stranger to a dustpan and broom.