Jeff Klein, the hotelier behind the prim City Club, doesn’t have much nostalgia for the gritty, arty days of the old Chelsea. “Not really,” he said from L.A.
So Mr. Klein, a former socialite who went to Horace Mann, Riverdale, Dwight and then Columbia Prep, and whose partner is John Goldwyn (the Baby Mama producer, and grandson of the MGM mogul), just sold his house at 153 West 18th Street for $5.95 million, according to city records. He sold to three brothers named Tim, Matt and Jon Gold, who together run a lighting supplies company called Midtown Electric.
Mr. Klein would only talk to The Observer if this article made it clear he didn’t actually want the press—which is true. “Ugh! Mmm. Yes, I sold the house, whatever,” he said when first asked about the sale.
His tone has apparently evolved from a 2001 New York Times profile, when he said, “Jeff Klein is here, and I’m full, and I’m selling out at $500 a night, and all you wannabes, all you little boutique copycats, are going to go bankrupt.” (He no longer speaks in the third person, though earlier this year, while he was guest-blogging on The Times’ Web site for a week, he wrote about Heath Ledger the morning after he died, saying the actor had stayed at his hotel in L.A.)
Speaking from California this week, Mr. Klein said he hadn’t lived in the Chelsea house for years, and had been renting its spaces out—the penthouse duplex he’d once stayed in went for $8,000 a month. Despite those rents, he didn’t do much renovation work after buying in 1999 for around $1.2 million, though he fixed up the interior décor, and his roof garden had homegrown tomatoes and a shower.
One might think he would have wanted to take off the facade’s fire escape. “From the outside, it looked like poor people lived there, and when you walked in it was gorgeous,” he said.
One might also think that Mr. Klein would be more wistful about his neighborhood (even if carping about the bankers with strollers there now is like wondering when all the painters left Soho). “The truth is,” he said, “to beautify that building would have been rearranging the deck chairs while the Titanic was sinking. The building to the left of me is like this tenement building, the building to the right is a tenement.”
There’s also an old storefront for the Golds’ electrical supply company next door. In fact, the brothers own those properties on either side of Mr. Klein’s old building, which they’ll probably try to develop now, the hotelier said. But that wouldn’t bother him. “No! No, it hasn’t been my house for quite a while.”