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Stanley Bard, manager of the Hotel Chelsea during its heyday, dies at age 82

Bard oversaw the hotel for half a century when it was home to celebrities like Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, and many more

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Stanley Bard, who managed the Chelsea Hotel during its heyday as a haven for some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, has passed away at the age of 82, Chelsea Hotel Blog reports.

Bard became the majority owner and managing director of the Chelsea Hotel in 1957, following the death of his father, David, who purchased the 1883 Victorian Gothic building in 1940. Bard’s rise to manager set into motion a new era for the hotel. As Chelsea Hotel Blog notes, “[t]hough Stanley inherited a building that was already known as a haven for the arts, he presided over the greatest artistic flowering in the history of the hotel, playing host to the Beats of the ’50s, the Warhol superstars of the ’60s, and the punks of the ’70s.”

Under Bard’s leadership, the hotel was home to icons like Dylan Thomas, Leonard Cohen, Arthur Miller, Christo, Madonna, Robert Mapplethorpe, Dee Dee Ramone, and Nico, among many others. In an October episode of NPR’s Fresh Air, actress Gabby Hoffman recalled encountering Bard while growing up in the hotel with her famous and eccentric mother. “Stanley Bard … would call myself, and my sister before me, into his office on the way to school at 6:00 or 7:00 [a.m.] and say, ‘You gotta talk to your mother for me! I can't take it anymore!’”

Bard managed the hotel up until 2007—through the time Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey and Bob Dylan penned Blonde on Blonde—when he was unceremoniously ousted by the hotel’s board, who handed the reins over to a luxury hotel team and effectively ended the Chelsea’s era as bohemian enclave.

“I created something over so many years—a lifetime—that I thought was beautiful and worth preserving,” Bard told Gothamist during his last days at the Chelsea in 2007. He continued:

I don’t know what someone else will be able to contribute to that wonderful difference that took me a whole lifetime to create. I never wanted the Chelsea to be a conformist community ... This community is so beautiful and different, and yes, strange and kooky. But all these things are highlights and something I consider very important to the total picture of the establishment.

Arthur Nash, a longtime resident of the hotel who spearheaded an effort to preserve Dylan Thomas’s former apartment there (and who also once flew a banner from the hotel’s facade, proclaiming “Bring Back Stanley Bard!”), sent Curbed this statement on Bard’s passing:

Stanley was an artist at heart but one with a businessman’s sense, which isn’t easy to find, and his contribution to the arts was a world-renowned Rest Stop for painters, writers, shutterbugs, shut-ins, and eccentrics. Some of them would form the backbone of 20th-century popular culture and while others gained no renown, they contributed to Bard’s human menagerie nonetheless. Some came to create, some to destroy, but none called the hotel’s dim-lit corridors ‘home’ without first meeting with Stanley Bard’s approval.

Cultivating the culture of Hotel Chelsea as he did was “my life's dream, my life's work” and for it he is thanked and missed.

Hotel Chelsea

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