John Rosselli’s apartment makes the case for collecting.
Once a week or so, legendary antiquarian and shopkeeper John Rosselli steals away to his home away from home. In the pin-drop-quiet living room, overlooking a leafy Manhattan garden and nearby church, he might spend a few hours perusing books, catching up on correspondence, or riffling through a chest of drawers filled with collected objets. The best part? Rosselli’s den of tranquility, seemingly worlds away from the commotion of New York City, is actually just a short walk from the Upper East Side apartment he shares with his wife, the equally renowned designer Bunny Williams.
“To be honest, I bought it on a whim!” laughs Rosselli, recalling how, more than 20 years ago, his nephew—who then lived in the 19th-century building—suggested he take a look at the apartment upstairs, despite Rosselli not actually being in the market for a new one. “I went to see it anyway, immediately fell in love, and said, ‘Well, I’ll have it!’” In the ensuing years, Rosselli has transformed the space into his own private gallery of sorts, filling it with collection upon collection of everything from 19th-century Chinese porcelain plates to animal-head walking sticks and miniature landscapes. (He notes it also helps keep his and Williams’s home from being completely overrun with his antiques.) “It’s my escape, no question,” he says. “When you’re sitting there in the afternoon sun, looking out over the tableau of the nearby roofs and bell tower, there’s nothing more wonderful.”