Manager Wanted; Historic Hotel; Masochist Preferred

“I just had enough,” said a beleaguered Andrew Tilley, who resigned last week as general manager of the Chelsea Hotel after barely seven months on the job. “I find the whole thing absolutely disgusting.”

Mr. Tilley, 47, is the second consecutive manager to hurriedly check out of the Chelsea after only a brief stint behind its famous front desk. His immediate predecessor, the Richard Born and Ira Drukier–led outfit BD Hotels, lasted just 10 months.

It’s a dirty, thankless job, as the building remains bitterly embroiled in landlord-tenant hostilities nearly two years after the controversial ouster of its legendary proprietor, Stanley Bard.

For five decades, the eccentric Mr. Bard and his family ran the hotel as a haven for artists, authors and other “rare individuals,” per its motto. The long list of notables who’ve roamed its halls has included Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller, Bob Dylan and Madonna.

Each successor has stepped into Mr. Bard’s old shoes with grand visions of modernizing the iconic 125-year-old West 23rd Street building. Each has been met with a stiff dose of suspicion and resistance from a vocal contingent of residents fiercely opposed to change.

An enclave once devoted to art, the Chelsea is now mired in politics, with the new regime and old guard constantly accusing each other of harassment. Not since the grisly 1978 murder of Nancy Spungen in Room 100 has the hotel been so consumed with drama and intrigue.

For Mr. Tilley, it seemed a losing battle. The ex-manager told The Observer that he was especially fed up with his unflattering portrayal on the popular Chelsea blog, Living With Legends, a gossipy, resident-run Web site that continually highlights the lingering tensions inside the long-standing landmark.

“If anybody bothers to read it, they’ll see that it’s a lot of nonsense and sensationalism,” Mr. Tilley said.

His brief Chelsea career is summed up in its snarky headlines:


“New Manager Andrew Tilley Speaks—and Says Little”


“On Eve of Depression, Andrew Tilley Moves to Evict Longterm Residents”


“Andrew Tilley: King of Illegal Construction”


“We reported everything he tried to do,” said the writer Ed Hamilton, who runs the blog with his girlfriend, Debbie Martin, in an email. “He tried to do illegal construction in Bob Dylan’s room, and boom, up it went on the blog—and the [Department of Buildings] shut him down. He plots to trash the rooftop gardens—boom!—increased media scrutiny and now they’ve backed off on that.”

“I find it ironic when we try to preserve the building and there are some people who say they want to preserve the building, but they get in the way, every which way, to try to prevent it,” countered Mr. Tilley.

Mr. Tilley accused Mr. Hamilton of bias. Mr. Hamilton agreed: “We’ve always said, unapologetically, Bring Back the Bards!”

Having his every move constantly criticized ultimately proved too much for Mr. Tilley. “The reason I resigned was the continued harassment, defamation of character and the comments about my national origin,” Mr. Tilley explained in his native British accent, adding, with perhaps a bit of paranoia, “How did you get my home number, by the way?”

Mr. Tilley was speaking over the phone from his New Jersey home, where early on he received some not-so-subtle hints of his tumultuous tenure ahead.

“Before I even started the job, a letter was sent to me warning me not to take the job,” Mr. Tilley said. “Then, a pair of women’s underwear was sent to my wife”—a sordid hint at indiscretion that the hotelier did not find funny.

Manager Wanted; Historic Hotel; Masochist Preferred