Frederick R. Koch

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Frederick Robinson Koch (/ˈkk/; born August 26, 1933)[1] is an American collector and philanthropist, the eldest of the four sons born to American industrialist Fred Chase Koch, founder of what is now Koch Industries, and Mary (Robinson) Koch.

Early years[edit]

Koch's paternal grandfather, Harry Koch, was a Dutch immigrant who founded the Quanah Tribune-Chief newspaper and was a founding shareholder of Quanah, Acme and Pacific Railway.

Beginning in 8th grade, Koch attended boarding school rather than living in Wichita with his family.[2]

Unlike his father and three brothers who studied chemical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and pursued business careers, Frederick studied humanities at Harvard College (B.A. 1955). After college, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving in Millington, Tennessee, near Memphis, and then on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga. Upon return to civilian life, Koch enrolled at the Yale School of Drama, where his focus was playwriting. He received an M.F.A. degree from the school in 1961.


Through personal and foundation acquisitions, Koch assembled large and important collections of rare books and literary and musical manuscripts, fine and decorative arts and photographs, with works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries predominating.[3] Among his private collections is the archival estate of George Platt Lynes and a vast archive of society photographer Jerome Zerbe.[4]

Koch's Frederick R. Koch Foundation is a major donor in New York to the Pierpont Morgan Library,[5] and the Frick Collection and, in Pittsburgh, to the Carnegie Museum of Art.[6] Of particular note are The Frederick R. Koch Collections at the Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library at Harvard University, and at Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Yale president Richard C. Levin described the Koch collection as "one of the greatest collections to come to Yale since the year of its founding."[7]

Since the 1980s, Koch has bought, restored and maintained a number of historic properties in the United States and abroad, including a Woolworth mansion in Manhattan;[8] the Habsburg hunting lodge, Schloss Blühnbach (near Salzburg);[9][10] the Romanesque Villa Torre Clementina in Cap Martin, France, and Elm Court, a Tudor Gothic manse in Butler, Pennsylvania, and the full reconstruction of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Swan Theater in England, from its 1879 remains.

Koch restored Sutton Place near Guildford (Surrey, England),[11] the former residence of J. Paul Getty and the legendary meeting place of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn (purchased from another art collector, Stanley Seeger[12]), and operated it as the Sutton Place Foundation, open to the public, for more than 25 years.[13][14] He sold the property in 2005.

Koch served for many years on the boards of directors of the Spoleto Festival and The Royal Shakespeare Company. He remains an active, long-serving board member of the Metropolitan Opera and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.