Another piece of unverified gossip, propagated by the blog Curbed.com, recently suggested that the entire 12-story building could soon be for sale, with a purported asking price of around $90 million—also denied by Dr. Krauss.
“The Chelsea Hotel is not for sale,” she told The Observer, echoing her earlier statement, “I have no desire to sell it.”
Given the hotel’s rigid corporate structure, she might not be able to.
“It’s a very restrictive corporation,” explained ousted manager Mr. Bard, who remains the company’s majority owner and previously refused to allow a sale, during a recent interview. “They wanted to sell,” he said of rival co-owners and board members Dr. Krauss and David Elder; each one, like Mr. Bard, members of one of the hotel’s founding families. “Because of our restrictions,” he said, “they couldn’t sell.”
What followed was a contentious arbitration three years ago that ultimately wrested operational control from Mr. Bard’s family for the next seven years.
His temporary replacements, Mr. Born and Mr. Drukier, now carry some pretty big expectations.
“They were going to show [the board] that they could make more money, improve the hotel, and prove that the Bard family was not managing in their best interest,” Mr. Bard said.
Earlier this month, Mr. Born and Mr. Drukier announced that both occupancy and room revenue had already increased after just one month under their control.
But that says nothing of the far more daunting task ahead in the form of renovations to the building, built in 1883, which Dr. Krauss has said could run as high as $50 million.
Hence, the potential interest in Mr. Balazs, who may know a thing or two about restoring beloved old buildings to their former glory without offending too many aesthetic sensibilities.
This is the man, after all, who successfully relaunched the Chateau Marmont to rave reviews. It is no Chelsea Hotel. Instead of wrangling with multiple owners, Mr. Balazs commands ownership of the Los Angeles celebrity hideout himself.
But the comparison is unavoidable.
Mr. Balazs himself has often recounted the story of how the late fashion photographer and Chateau Marmont stalwart Helmut Newton warned him to not “fuck it up,” ironically as a spring on the old sofa where Mr. Newton was sitting burst from the fabric.
As the Chelsea’s ancient plumbing creaks and residents groan over looming changes, how much longer before Mr. Balazs officially joins the fray?
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