This local skull-ebrity has a new home for his skele-ton of inventory.
Amid the nightspots and street art of Brooklyn’s trendy Bushwick, there is now also a shop displaying what its owner claims is one of the largest collections of human bones in the US.
“It’s an extremely big step for the business,” medical salesman Jon Pichaya Ferry, 22, told The Post of moving his anatomical education and supply business, JonsBones, out of his Williamsburg apartment and into its new 175-square-foot commercial space at 44 Stewart Ave., right in the thick of the hip neighborhood. “The spine wall finally has a space to breathe.”
The “spine wall” is his collection of 120 spinal columns, formerly displayed across two walls within his home office and now neatly organized in a gradient above his shop’s black faux leather couch. The backbones compose only part of Ferry’s extensive assemblage of what he estimates to be $500,000 worth of human remains. He also has close to 100 skulls, eight full skeletons and various rare items, including phantom and exploded skulls — the latter of which show detailed aspects of the human head. (The Natural History Museum, he notes, displays “an extensive collection of other bones” and fossils but only has the skeletal remains of two humans on display — and they’re primates.)
Most of his specimens were passed down to him from doctors, medical professionals and individual sellers who find themselves with bones they don’t know what to do with and aren’t sure how to legally dispose of. His passion for the macabre trade started when he was 15 and his father gifted him a rat skeleton. By college — which Ferry, a full-time student studying product design at Parsons, still has one year left of — his array had grown to the point that he decided to start a business out of his dorm room. JonsBones has since moved five times.
“I do not trust any moving companies at all, so I personally moved everything by hand with my [six-person] team,” Ferry said of the most recent move, which took 17 trips, all done in a single day. “It took months of prep work and not a single tooth chipped, not a sternum cracked.”
All of his bones are above-board, Ferry insists, but still he is regularly inundated with critique on social media from haters who believe his deathly decor is somehow unethical. His clients, however, are quick to defend him and his passion for making the remains more accessible to academics, medical professionals and search-and-rescue agents alike.
“I’ve been a chiropractor for 30 years, and when I went to school the medical specimens we studied and learned on were actual specimens,” Virginia-based chiropractor Dr. David Block told The Post, explaining that, in the past few decades, the medical community has transitioned away from having students study with actual human bones, instead using cheaper 3D-printed ones.
Block came upon Ferry’s website while looking to source the real deal for his 22-year-old daughter, who is currently “learning on plastic” in medical school.
“I was able to procure a human spine and a couple of skulls my daughter uses for studies,” said Block, calling the plastic models “a bit of a disservice — when I’m touching people, and needing to understand the nuances of every bone, having exposure to actual specimens made such a difference to me.”
Other clients commented that, in an industry defined by inaccessible universities, Ferry is uniquely online and accessible.
“He’s very responsive to people such as myself who need good, quality stuff to train our dogs on,” K9 handler Joe Huston of Texas Search and Rescue told The Post. “Five, six years ago I ran across a lady who said she was getting bones in New York. I got ahold of Jon, bought the bones from him and they were everything as advertised.”
With the new Bushwick location, Ferry plans to reserve a “small corner” for fulfilling client orders, but aims to mostly use it as a public viewing space, “first and foremost” for medical students, educators and anthropologists — but also the general public. If safety weren’t such a high priority for him, he says, he would’ve wanted to display his treasures in a storefront, but the risk of smash-and-grab theft is simply too high.
“We plan to have [public] tours that you can book on our website,” he said, noting that most of his customers come from the 40 schools across America he has working relationships with. “If we lived in any other state we’d have a full museum by now,” he added, but prohibitive NYC rents have so far prevented it.
The soft open is slated for next month, and Ferry has already received “a lot of requests” from folks hoping to visit. Also in the works are plans to expand the business, secure a larger unit at the address, launch a bone-inspired jewelry line with a local artist and commission more unique specimens for display. In the immediate future, he wants to install a mini fridge.
“I’m really excited that people will be able to see the collection in its entirety,” said 26-year-old Persephone Bennett, who became JonBones’ communication director after matching with him on Tinder. “It’ll allow us to reach a lot more people and give access to the people that are the most curious.”