Published: July 18, 2000
NEW YORK CITY – The collapse of a four-story building on the Lower East Side July 13 destroyed 25 years of salvaged fixtures and artifacts in two ways: firstly by the fall of the building which contained them; and secondly by workers using clamshell buckets to scoop up Tiffany windows and brick and mortar together and dumping them into a pile for removal.
Evan Blum, owner of Irreplaceable Artifacts – an antiques shop housed in the building – stated, “I was very saddened by the hastiness of the city and for the barbaric and unfair way they treated us and the building’s contents.”
Among the 20,000 items lost were Tiffany windows, elements from the Chrysler building, an intricately carved coffered walnut ceiling from the collection of William Randolph Hearst, Art Nouveau fountains, columns, pedestals, clocks elevators, flagpoles, frames, friezes, furniture, mirrors, paneled rooms, sculpture, signs, staircases, windows, and countless other articles.
A modern day Titanic, all the “great captains of industry” and philanthropy were represented in Blum’s holdings. Names like Vanderbilt, du Pont, Rockefeller, and Melon are associated with many of the pieces and the buildings they once adorned.
Blum’s salvaging efforts extended to all areas of the world and he states, “This was probably the most historically significant collection in the United States and probably the world. No one was as academic as myself at knowing the origin, usage, and history of each piece.”
The collection is estimated to have been worth millions but no price can be levied on the history lost in a pile of rubble, moved by a crane and lost forever. Irreplaceable Artifacts will reopen at 216 East 125th Street, Harlem, with a collection of “far less pedigree,” as described by Blum, “but the space is larger.”
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