20 Oct 2010

New York's Chelsea Hotel being sold

11:01 am on 20 October 2010

The New York hotel that inspired creative talent from Sir Arthur Clarke to Sid Vicious is up for sale.

The Chelsea Hotel has been controlled primarily by three families that have owned it for 65 years.

Writers such as O. Henry and Thomas Wolfe, stayed there, as did playwright Arthur Miller, artist Andy Warhol and musicians Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.

Punk rocker Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols killed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen there in 1978 in a drug-induced stupor, and the Chelsea Hotel is where Bob Dylan, according to his own lyrics, wrote Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.

The 12-floor, 250-room hotel was built in 1883 on 23rd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, a part of town called Chelsea that was a theatre district at the time.

Now it is home to a concentration of art galleries and is one of the city's best-known gay districts.

Upkeep of the old building required a $US2 million to $US3 million investment in recent years to renovate 25 rooms and the lobby, a hotel spokesperson said.

The property is split between transient hotel rooms and residential units.

For more than 50 years the hotel was managed by Stanley Bard, a member of one of the ownership families, who was ousted by the board in 2007.

It was Bard who decided which struggling artists deserved a break on the rent and welcomed the hippies and punks rejected elsewhere.