Attention, Missing Artworks: The Chelsea Hotel Remembers You Well

chelseahotel1 Attention, Missing Artworks: The Chelsea Hotel Remembers You WellThe list of the artists, writers, musicians and sundry other creative types who have lived at the Chelsea Hotel is staggering: Bob Dylan, Charles Bukowski, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Janis Joplin, Larry Rivers…

So, apparently, is the list of artworks that have disappeared from its walls over the years. Today the hotel blog Living with Legends reports that the place has been hemorrhaging artworks, whether because the artists who made them get evicted; the pieces are mistakenly thrown away; or relatives of the artists steal things. Sometimes an artwork’s disappearance is, well, just a mystery.

Recently, the hotel had perhaps its most sheepish moment yet: a painting of a nude by Akbar Padamsee that had hung above the door to its lobby sold in March, at Sotheby’s, for $1.4 million.

Now the hotel is worried that two paintings by Australian artist Brett Whiteley may end up on the block. “[A]ccording to an  anonymous tipster,” the website breathlessly reports, “several paintings were observed being carted out of the hotel last Wednesday and taken away in a van.”

What remains unclear is how, exactly, what the website rather bathetically characterizes as “the looting of our proud artistic tradition” happened right under the hotel’s eyes. How, in other words, did the consignor of Mr. Padamsee’s painting get the painting out of the lobby and over to Sotheby’s without anyone noticing? (The website claims, rather confusingly, that part of the proceeds from the Sotheby’s sale “should be used to compensate the widows whose husband’s stolen paintings formed an integral part of that tradition.”)

Is security that loose over there at the Chelsea Hotel? Perhaps the disappearance of its art, like so much that happened behind closed doors at this storied artist residence, will remain a mystery.

sdouglas@observer.com

Article continues below
More from Politics
STAR OF DAVID OR 'PLAIN STAR'?   If you thought "CP Time" was impolitic, on July 2 Donald Trump posted a picture on Twitter of a Star of David on top of a pile of cash next to Hillary Clinton's face. You'd think after the aforementioned crime stats incident (or after engaging a user called "@WhiteGenocideTM," or blasting out a quote from Benito Mussolini, or...) Trump would have learned to wait a full 15 seconds before hitting the "Tweet" button. But not only was the gaffe itself bad, the attempts at damage control made the BP oil spill response look a virtuoso performance.  About two hours after the image went up on Trump's account, somebody took it down and replaced it with a similar picture that swapped the hexagram with a circle (bearing the same legend "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!"!). Believe it or not, it actually got worse from there. As reports arose that the first image had originated on a white supremacist message board, Trump insisted that the shape was a "sheriff's star," or "plain star," not a Star of David. And he continued to sulk about the coverage online and in public for days afterward, even when the media was clearly ready to move on. This refusal to just let some bad press go would haunt him later on.
Donald Trump More Or Less Says He’ll Keep On Tweeting as President