Published: January 31, 2017
Hart was born in New Jersey on May 8, 1925. He grew up in New Jersey and Minnesota in a close-knit family whose members participated in a family-owned lumber and building supplies business. He attended preparatory school in Minneapolis and served in the US Army during World War II. After earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Yale College following the war, he did further coursework at New York University.
Early in his career, Hart worked for Alfred Bullard, the Philadelphia dealer in fine, formal English furniture. He also worked as a fine arts appraiser for Parke-Bernet Galleries.
William Bertolet, who succeeded Hart at Alfred Bullard, Inc, and later acquired the business, said, “John was gregarious but also conservative. He had solid, good taste, and was not in any way flashy.”
Once Hart settled in New York’s Greenwich Village, he developed a circle of friends who congregated after work and on weekends at popular cultural venues. A lifelong jazz enthusiast, he frequented Bemelmans Bar at New York’s Carlyle Hotel.
Hart and his partner in business and in life, Bob Nimmo, left New York City in the early 1960s to establish their antiques business in Middleton Springs, Vt., their base for nearly four decades. The men were avid skiers and thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of life in northern New England. As dealers, they were known for early English furniture and choice smalls – “early ceramics, brass, interesting little pictures of various kinds,” said Hart’s friend and colleague Chris Jussel.
Jussel noted, “John and Bob were steady exhibitors for decades at all the Russell Carrell shows: Lake Forest, Grosse Pointe, Bedford, Southport-Westport and the Philadelphia Antiques Show. John was a gentle and gracious man, a great gentleman of the trade and a man with a wry sense of humor. Even better, he was someone from another era in antiques dealing who told great stories about his experiences in the business – many were most amusing, to say the least.” Most notably, Nimmo and Hart exhibited at New York’s Winter Antiques Show for 21 years, withdrawing from the fair in 1991.
Hart traveled widely, visiting Asia, Morocco, Great Britain, much of Europe and the Caribbean. He was particularly fond of London, which he visited frequently over the years.
Upon retiring from the antiques business in the late 1990s, Nimmo and Hart moved to Beaufort, S.C. Hart relocated to the Haddam-Lyme area of Connecticut after Nimmo’s death in 2002. He was welcomed with open arms by friends in the antiques business who lived and worked in southeastern Connecticut.
Hart will be remembered for his kind, gentle and gracious manner and for his love of animals, literature, jazz music and humanity. In addition to Nimmo, he was predeceased by his parents, his beloved beagles Lucy, Charlie and Disney, and his adopted beagle Libby. He will be sorely missed and never forgotten by his companion of recent years, David Haddad of New London, Conn., and his close friends Tom Rose, Patrick Csora, Naomi Jaivin, Deborah Roddy, Alwynn Mattern, Eric Nesbitt, Heidi Martin, Wilson Bynum, Skip Broom, John Senning, Elaine Huber and Bryce Muir.
A celebration of his life is planned in the coming weeks.
-Submitted by David Haddad
May 17, 2022
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