MR. BARD JUST DOESN'T seem keen on taking such a passive role.
“You go speak to any tenant, they’ll say that the Bards are the Chelsea Hotel, they’re the heart and soul of the hotel, they created the hotel,” he said, pulling out a stack of letters from supporters, including a note on Mr. Bard’s current situation—“this sucks,” signed by one Marisa Tomei.
Indeed, publicly, residents profess nothing but love and admiration for the man behind New York’s most eccentric hotel. Privately, however, many confess complaints, including preferential treatment for certain residents and high rents for others, as well as alleged housing violations.
Mr. Bard attributed the criticism to residents’ lawyering up over fears of their own removal. He vowed to stay on the premises “to protect the hotel’s integrity, that’s why I’m here,” he said.
Dr. Krauss, meanwhile, stressed that the new regime has no plans for a wholesale artist eviction—just widespread renovations: “There is a great history here. There’s a great physical structure. We would like to clean it up. It needs a lot of cleaning up. We’d like to repair leaks. We’d like to get new heating, new plumbing systems. Our feeling is it could be the most interesting, respected hotel in New York.
“If you read the reviews of the hotel,” added Dr. Krauss, “they’re kind of bad. It’s kind of embarrassing.”
A one-night stay in Room 218 on July 23 cost $179 plus tax. (A cheaper room, sans bathroom, was listed at $109.) Every piece of furniture in the unit looked ancient—save for the 36-inch Samsung flat-screen TV, which made arcade noises when it shut down. Every 10 minutes or so, the ghostly toilet loudly belched.
“I want to pass it on to my kids,” said Dr. Krauss. “I’m embarrassed to pass it on to them now.”