Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2020 Issue

Major Collector, Benefactor of Institutional Literary Collections, and Brother, Frederick R. Koch Dies

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Frederick Koch.

He was an obscure collector in the fields of literature, music and art, and also a major benefactor of collections at several notable institutions. Those contributions were substantial, and yet their benefactor, Frederick Koch, wished to remain in the background. Many of his gifts were given anonymously, and he never sought the limelight despite his generosity. Frederick Koch died on February 12, 2020, at the age of 86. His passing generated few headlines, despite his largesse and the fact that Mr. Koch was a billionaire.

 

Despite his personal reticence, Mr. Koch had a name that is one of the most controversial in American politics. He was one of the Koch brothers, a name associated with enormous funding for very conservative politics and politicians. They provided training and funding for politicians whose views were well to the right of center. For years, they played a dominant role in funding Republican politicians. In recent years their star has faded somewhat, as they did not follow the party into Trumpism, sticking with more traditional conservative views. Still, their influence remains strong, and their name became a rallying point for liberals and Democrats opposed to their views, the bête noire of politicians to the left of center.

 

However, while Frederick Koch was a Koch brother, he was not one of the “Koch Brothers.” Their father, Fred Koch, had four sons. Fred made a fortune in the oil and oil equipment business, leaving each of his sons with enough money to be billionaires. Two of those sons, Charles and David, succeeded Fred, who also held very far right political views, in the family business, Koch Industries. Those two were the ones who became known as the “Koch Brothers.” A third son, William, also went into business and went out on his own. He also shared conservative views, but not on the level of those of Charles and David. Frederick, however, stayed out of politics, his interests focused on the arts instead. The brothers experienced deep personal divisions, Charles and David on one side, William and Frederick on the other. They sued each other numerous times. Money doesn't always buy close relationships.

 

Frederick was a disappointment to his hard-driving businessman father. He was Fred's namesake and oldest son, but went in a different direction. His three brothers followed their father's footsteps, studying engineering at MIT. Frederick studied humanities at Harvard and later received a Masters in Fine Arts from Yale. Eventually, his father threw him out of the house and wrote him out of his will. However, Frederick by then was already a 14% beneficiary in the family trust which made him a billionaire. He considered being a playwright at one time, but ultimately settled into a life of collecting and philanthropy.

 

The Frederick R. Koch Collection at the Beinecke Library at Yale University is concentrated in manuscripts, particularly in the fields of music and literature. According to the library's website, “Composers represented in the Koch collection include Hector Berlioz, Georges Bizet, Luigi Boccherini, Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy, Manual de Falla, Gabriel Faure, Cesar Franck, Charles Gounod, Reynaldo Hahn, George Frederic Handel, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Franz Liszt, Pietro Mascagni, Jules Massenet, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Jacques Offenbach, Francis Poulenc, Giacomo Puccini, Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saëns, Erik Satie, Franz Schubert, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Giuseppi Verdi, Richard Wagner, William Walton, Carl Maria von Weber, Hugo Wolf, and Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, among many others.

 

“Authors include W. H. Auden, Jean Cocteau, Noel Coward, Alphonse Daudet, Alexandre Dumas, Jean Genet, Victor Hugo, Henry James, Edward Lear, Anita Loos, W. Somerset Maugham, James Ingram Merrill, Henry Miller, A. A. Milne, Marcel Proust, Arthur Rimbaud, and Oscar Wilde, among others.”

 

At Harvard's Houghton Library, there is a collection of photographs of stage and screen actors from 1920-1979, many signed. It also was a gift of Frederick Koch. Other beneficiaries include the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York and the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.

 

Frederick's closest survivors are his two surviving brothers, William and Charles, the latter with whom he never reconciled. It is said that his large estate, which includes vast real estate holdings, will be used to fund a foundation dedicated to promoting the study of literature, history, and the arts.


Posted On: 2020-03-19 02:29
User Name: mairin

Timely information from Michael Stillman, as usual. Thank you, Mike.
I'll be watching for news about Koch's foundation ~ sounds promising & worthwhile.
Hope it all happens.
Maureen E. Mulvihill.
__


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> BENNETT, Lieut. William Pyt (d. in action, 1916). AN IMPORTANT AND APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED SERIES OF GELATIN SILVER PHOTOGRAPHS OF LHASA AND TIBET TAKEN DURING THE CELEBRATED YOUNGHUSBAND MISSION OF 1904. $60,000 to $80,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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