The iconic Hotel Chelsea is up for sale: At this moment, a number of high-profile bidders, including Andre Balazs, Ian Schrager, and David Bard, the son of the deposed longtime manager Stanley Bard, are vying for the opportunity to buy it, despite the fact that it's rumored to be haunted by ghosts — and is definitely half-full of long-term residents who share a deep emotional attachment to the building. As the clock ticks, some of the residents reflect on their fate.
The hotel is like "a doll's house in The Twilight Zone," Patti Smith wrote in her memoir Just Kids, "with a hundred rooms, each a small universe." Forty years later, it's still the same way. The doors might open into a spacious apartment passed down through generations, a cramped hotel room where a couple has been living for decades ...
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... or a fancy hair salon, like Suite 303 on the third floor, where you can get your tarot cards read ...
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... while waiting for a $400 haircut from the proprietor, April Barton. "It’s a lifestyle within its own walls," Barton, a theatrical presence who also happens to be an actress, says of the hotel. "There’s no sellouts here. There’s all individuals. My friends make fun of me, like I should get out more. But every time I go out, I’m not impressed. So I’m like, eh, back to the hotel I go."
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Linda Troeller's Room
Less flatteringly, the hotel has been compared to a college dorm, in part because of the residents' tendency to decorate their doors with their artwork.
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The famous wrought-iron staircase of the hotel has traditionally been adorned with art from its tenants, though now there are several blank spaces from when departing residents have taken theirs down.
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Linda Troeller is a photographer who has compiled some of her photographs of the hotel — including this self-portrait — into a book she sells out of her ninth floor apartment. She is despondent about the lack of support for artists in the "weird post Stanley-era" at the hotel, and in New York in general. "Now, to get the feeling of an artists community, you have to move Brooklyn, or Shanghai."
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She and her husband Lotar are considering moving (maybe to New Orleans), depending on who takes over the property. Being bohemian eye-candy for future hotel guests or condo owners, they think, might be weird. "We don’t want to be figures on a movie set," says Lotar.
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Painter David Remfry, who showed up at the hotel fifteen years ago with seventeen pieces of luggage and has never left, describes the uncertainty of the future of the hotel in the years since Bard's departure as an "ongoing minor hurt."
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“You belong here,” Chelsea’s longtime manager told Nicola L, a French conceptual artist, when she arrived at the hotel 30 years ago. Whatever happens with the ownership of the hotel, she has no plans to move. “We are a monument inside a monument,” she says of herself and the other artists who live in the building.
David Remfry sold this series of a nude burlesque dancer, but the patron still has to convince his wife to let him bring it into the house. 'He has one year," says Remfry.
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Tony Notarberardino, a photographer who lives in an apartment that was colorfully painted by the late artist Vali Myers, has been working on a book of portraits of some of the hotel's guests over the past decade.
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Ed Hamilton, who lives with his girlfriend on the eighth floor, is the unofficial historian of the hotel. His blog, Living With Legends, has been virulently critical of the hotel's board and management since they ousted manager Stanley Bard in 2007.
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David Kormurek and Kelsey Magersion
The board hired creative consultant David Komurek in 2009 to help them with some updates, but nothing ever panned out. Now he and his friend Kelsey are waiting to see what happens, like everyone else. Andre Balazs is "without doubt the best person" to take over the hotel, in his opinion.
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Groupies used to come to the hotel to hang out with rock stars. But editorial assistant Kelsey Osgood just comes for the nostalgic ambience. "I'm not actually a resident of the hotel, but rather sort of a wannabe/hanger on," she says.
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Nemo and Kacey Librizzi
Nemo Librizzi, who inherited the small studio he shares with his wife from his father, is philosophical about the changes. "The world changes, and you gotta change with it," he said. "It's almost like how you do when someone dies, you hope there's some bigger better spiritual world they're in and you just remember the good things about them and that's that. I mean, nothing lasts forever."