Hot on the heels of the Hoboken Picasso thief, ArtInfo reports that the Chelsea Hotel has been undergoing a Thomas Crown affair of its own. The hotel, designated a landmark in 1966, put up for sale in 2010, has walls “caked with art” by former and current hotel residents, like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Willem De Kooning. That art has been vanishing, piece by piece, either taken away with evicted owners, thrown away, or just “going missing.” Ed Hamilton, who writes Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog, was tipped off that several of Brett Whiteley’s paintings, which sell for millions, “were observed being carted out of the hotel last Wednesday and taken away in a van.”
Hamilton also notes that an Akbar Padamsee painting that disappeared from above the door to the hotel’s lobby in late 2010 recently resurfaced, auctioned off at Sotheby’s for $1.4 million. Via Art Info,
The work came from a “private collector,” whom Ed Hamilton alleges was Stanley Bard, a former manager of the hotel. Sotheby’s declined to comment about the owner to ARTINFO.
Today Hamilton writes that a painting by Alpheous Philemon Cole that hung behind the hotel desk until it was put in storage under new management was recently seen “being heaved into the van along with the others.”
Hamilton is trying to take stock of all the paintings people remember from the hotel, as well as any they think may have gone missing — and asking management to provide a list of the works that have been removed from the hotel.
The hotel is closed to guests (and art stealers) after August 2, when the renovation in the hands of its new owner, real estate developer Joseph Chetrit, is set to begin, art or no art. But preferably with the art.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 26, 2011