In 2007, Stanley Bard, the longtime proprietor of the Hotel Chelsea, gave me a tour of the place just as he was being ousted by the board of directors. The iconic hotel is filled with legends and lore, which is 100% thanks to the Bard family allowing for creatives to do their thing there for decades. That all changed after Stanley Bard's departure, though a few longtime residents are still hanging on inside as the place passes through hands of hoteliers. One of those residents, Ed Hamilton, alerted me this morning that Stanley Bard has died at the age of 82.
"Stanley is survived by thousands of people in the arts who have called the Chelsea Hotel their home—for a night, a week, a month, a year, or for several decades—and who will continue to honor his memory in their lives and their art for many years to come," Hamilton wrote, adding that "as long as the Chelsea Hotel stands, the spirit of Stanley and his undying dedication to the arts he so loved will live on."
Hamilton, author of The Chintz Age, has also written a tribute on his blog, declaring Stanley to be "the guiding spirit of the greatest experiment in bohemian living in the history of New York, if not the world." He adds that he was in Boca Raton, Florida, at the time of his death, surrounded by his loved ones; "he had been ill for the last few years, succumbed to a massive stroke."
Here is a video from the tour Bard gave me a decade ago, when he was heartbroken to be losing the keys. Here's what he told me:
"I created something over a lifetime that I thought was beautiful and worth preserving, and so respected... by everyone. I felt it would be a shame to have that disturbed in any way. I never wanted the Chelsea to be a conformist community. It's uncomfortable to me, to say the least. I have to protect the integrity, the people... and I feel these are my friends, and they're worth protecting, and that's the beautiful part of it. Why would anyone want to change that? My tenants like me and respect me, and I respect them, totally and wholeheartedly. It's a Mutual Admiration Society. It took me one lifetime to create that, I hope I live another lifetime to see that it's preserved."
Services will be Thursday, February 16th, at 10 a.m. at Temple Emmanuel (180 Piermont Rd., Closter, NJ).