This modest Harlem tenement building contains chunks of New York buildings and landmarks worth millions of dollars.There are railings from the Brooklyn Bridge. There’s a granite toilet shaped like a kneeling man from the Cartier Mansion on 96th Street.
There are fireplaces from the Plaza Hotel, and fixtures from Jackie O’s old apartment.
Take a look inside the Demolition Depot >
Somewhere between an antiques dealer and a salvage yard, the company sells the items to people restoring old buildings or looking for weird, original features. This is where you go if you need 16 vintage bathtubs for a Hamptons summer home or an original front door for a Park Slope brownstone.
Items from the collection also end up in bars, restaurants and hotels all over the country. The Art Deco bar at The Odeon. The mirrors, and the bar at Balthazar. The huge clock on the front of Lavo. Interiors at the Bowery, Jane and Maritime hotels. They rent to TV and film crews, outfitting sets for Law And Order, Boardwalk Empire, and famously, the bathrooms in ‘Sex And The City.’
The business is driven by the fads in the brutal world of high-end design, where homes, hotels and bars need to be constantly reinvented, and where interiors are as definitive as where you eat and what you wear.
Like restaurants and designers, vintage styles fall in and out of favour. Right now, people are buying antique bars like crazy. “People buy antique bars every time there’s a recession,” said owner Evan Blum. “Prices are at an all-time high.”
People spend serious amounts of money, Blum explained, because they see the pieces as an investment.
At the cheaper end of the scale, Irreplaceable artifacts has $5 hooks from the Victorian Ocean House hotel in Rhode Island. At the top of the price range: a $350,000 Renaissance revival marble fireplace that used to belong to a Massachusetts governor.
“I understand this stuff better than anyone,” said Blum, 58, who’s done appraisal work for auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s as well as the City of New York. “I look at something and I can tell you how it was made and when it was made — sometimes by who,” he added.Saving old architecture has been an obsession for Blum since he was a kid. “I had the marquee from Loews Delancey Theatre in the backyard,” said Blum, who got started in the architectural salvage business in the 1960s. “I used to collect this stuff and I collected myself out of the house, so my mother said ‘Either you go, or the stuff goes,'” he added.
Blum works by buying the salvage rights to buildings like the JP Morgan, Vanderbilt and Whitney estates on Long Island, and ripping out everything of value, before the buildings are torn down or remodeled. Last year he went through about 160 buildings.
“I don’t like doing it when there’s no reason to take a building apart,” said Blum. “But if I don’t do it, the result could be worse.”
The alternative, he said, is usually a dumpster: “I preserve the best of the buildings.”
Somewhere between an antiques dealer and a salvage yard, Irreplaceable Artifacts strips old buildings before they're demolished or remodeled.
The company sells the items to people restoring old buildings or looking for weird, original fixtures.
Fireplaces are some of the most expensive items. Topping the price range is a $350,000 Renaissance revival marble fireplace.
The company also rents to TV and film crews, outfitting sets for Law And Order, Boardwalk Empire, and Sex And The City.
The business is driven by the fads in the brutal world of high-end design, where homes, hotels and bars need to be constantly reinvented.
Behind the warehouse, there's a huge yard stacked with old street signs, sections of buildings and an old London telephone box.
This huge clock used to loom above 32nd Street. Similar clocks from Irreplaceable Artifacts have ended up in bars and restaurants like Lavo in Midtown Manhattan.
There are also sconces and clocks and radiators from buildings that range from old public schools to the Vanderbilt estate on Long Island.
Four cats slink around the Harlem building, leaping from tables and prowling the walkways between stacks of doors and windows. They were all found abandoned in buildings Irreplaceable Artifacts was taking apart.
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