Ghosts of the Chelsea |


Ghosts of the Chelsea

It was more art commune than hotel: Madonna stayed there, so did Arthur Miller, Dylan Thomas, Janis Joplin, and Patti Smith; we've collected the juiciest tidbits from Sherill Tippins' history ''Inside the Dream Palace''

Worst Dining-Room Scene
Before a 1945 show by Jackson Pollock, his patron Peggy Guggenheim organized a lunch at the Chelsea so the then-unknown artist could meet collectors. The event ended when Pollock, who was drunk, threw up on the carpet.

Best Literary Hookup
After a night of drinking in 1953, Jack Kerouac and Gore Vidal checked into the Chelsea. As they signed the hotel log, they told the clerk that the register would become a famous artifact.

Most Original Room
In the ’60s, composer George Kleinsinger created an actual jungle in his penthouse apartment, complete with trees, a monkey, and an eight-foot python.

Funniest Andy Warhol Story
In August 1967, hotel resident and filmmaker Shirley Clarke invited the Grateful Dead to perform a show on the roof. The band stopped playing after frequent Chelsea visitor Warhol arrived, claiming his energy-sucking vibes made it impossible for them to continue.

Sweetest ”How They Met” Tale
Leonard Cohen met Janis Joplin on an elevator at the Chelsea in the late ’60s. When Joplin told him she was looking for Kris Kristofferson, Cohen made her laugh by claiming he actually was the country heartthrob. Cohen later referenced their subsequent tryst in “Chelsea Hotel No. 2.”

Nicest Neighbors
The Chelsea’s artists often helped each other out. After impoverished couple Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe moved into the hotel in 1969, their neighbor Sandy Daley invited them round for breakfast in what would become a daily ritual. Another Chelsea artist, Peggy Biderman, recommended a doctor who could treat Mapplethorpe’s case of the clap.

Wildest Party
How riotous was a bash thrown by the Rolling Stones at the Chelsea in the early ’70s? Two of the hotel’s bellmen ended up at Bellevue Hospital.

Most Notorious Death
Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, was fatally stabbed at the hotel on Oct. 12, 1978. Vicious was charged with the murder but died of a heroin overdose before he could be put on trial. “The hotel will never get over it,” Chelsea manager Stanley Bard told Tippins. Spungen and Vicious lived on the first floor (a.k.a. “the junkie floor”), where Bard placed drug addicts so he could keep an eye on them.