What’s Better Than a Dead Koch Brother? How About a Gay Koch Brother?

Gay Koch, photo via YouTube

In 2015, at a private conference in Palm Springs, the political network led by billionaires Charles and David Koch announced that they would spend $889 million in the 2016 elections. Their organization consists almost entirely of groups that don’t register under the campaign finance laws and don’t publicly identify their donors.

We’ve heard and read a lot about those charming billionaires brothers who for decades have financed right-wing efforts to ruin the world, but did you know that they have an older brother who is gay? David Koch at least had the good to go ahead and die, but Frederick ”Freddie” Koch is 85 years old is still ticking. Although he stays out of the spotlight, a 2014 book about the brothers points out that he is so cheap that he berates his servants for wasting postage stamps and once held up traffic so he could pry a nickel out of the asphalt in a Manhattan crosswalk.

By time Frederick was in his 20s, all four Koch brothers had shares in their family company. One day, the three other brothers confronted him and conducted an inquisition to see if he was gay. They said that if he was, they were going to tell their father unless he handed over his share in the company. Frederick, who is the eldest, stood up, looked at them, said: “I never want to hear about this again” and walked out of the room.

According to Sons Of Wichita: How The Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful And Private Dynasty (2014) by journalist Daniel Schulman, Freddie never did fit in with Charles, David or fourth brother William when they were all growing up. According to the book, they just didn’t want Frederick’s name brought up. You didn’t hear much about Freddie at all. It was almost like he wasn’t part of the Koch family.

In 1983, Frederick and William made $800 million by selling their share in the family’s Koch Industries energy business, and then sued Charles and David for allegedly cheating them on the deal, losing the suit.

Charles and David then had control of Koch Industries, earning them billions and they used the money to bankroll right-wing extremists, fighting Obama Care and challenging climate change science.

William started his own company. His boat was the winner of the America’s Cup in 1992. Forbes estimated this Koch’s net worth at $1.8 billion in 2019. He came into the public eye for filing lawsuits over his purchase of counterfeit wine, including several bottles purportedly owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Frederick, estranged from his younger brothers, would occasionally run into David at charity events, resulting in ”short, awkward exchanges”, according to the book, which also claims it was an open secret that Frederick was gay, with sources saying so on and off the record.

Freddie owns a seven-story townhouse at 6 East 80th St., which was built in the early 1900s by tycoon Frank Winfield Woolworth. Freddie paid $5 million for it in 1986, then restored it over the course of the next decade. The work included extending a marble balustrade through the top six stories, replacing the plaster walls with French limestone and widening a pair of stone columns to fit The Abduction Of Psyche by William-Adlolphe Bouguereau, an important 19th century painting.

The gay Koch brother graduated from Harvard College, and at the Yale School of Drama, with hope of becoming a playwright.

Koch has a large, important collection of rare books and literary and musical manuscripts. He also collects fine and decorative arts and photographs. Among his private collections is the archival estate of masterful gay photographer George Platt Lynes and a vast archive of works by gay society photographer Jerome Zerbe.

Gay Koch is a major donor in the Pierpont Morgan Library, the Frick Collection, Carnegie Museum of Art, The Frederick R. Koch Collections at the Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library at Harvard, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale.

Besides the Woolworth mansion in Manhattan, gay Koch owns the Habsburg hunting lodge Schloss Blühnbach near Salzburg; the Romanesque Villa Torre Clementina in Cap Martin, France; and Elm Court, a Tudor Gothic mansion in Pennsylvania.

Gay Koch financed the reconstruction of the Royal Shakespeare Company‘s Swan Theater from its 1879 remains, although his role as the project’s patron was kept secret for years. Plus, in 1990, he purchased Sutton Place, the meeting place of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, restored the house and hung some his vast art collection, but never spent a single night there, selling it (minus the art) for a profit in in 2005.

Koch served on the boards of directors of the Spoleto Festival, The Royal Shakespeare Company, the Metropolitan Opera and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Photograph from BBC via YouTube

The New Yorker reported that Koch had moved to Monaco, which has no income tax. Despite philanthropy and millions spent on art acquisitions and property restoration, gay Koch is said to have a frugal streak, and reportedly “prefers taking the public bus in New York and typically flies commercial“, according to Vanity Fair.

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