NY’s Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises US$400,000

A visitor walks amongst the Chelsea doors on display at Ricco/Maresca Gallery in New York April 6, 2018. — AFP pic
A visitor walks amongst the Chelsea doors on display at Ricco/Maresca Gallery in New York April 6, 2018. — AFP pic

NEW YORK, April 15 — The auction of old, chipped doors from New York’s Chelsea Hotel where celebrities including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Madonna once stayed raised more than US$400,000 (RM1.55 million), an auction house said Friday.

The doors were saved thanks to an enterprising former homeless man after the historic bohemian hangout on 23rd Street closed in 2011 for extensive renovations.

The doors “don’t look very pretty but have incredible significance,” Guernsey’s auction house owner Arlan Ettinger told AFP before the bidding.

Since opening in 1884 the Chelsea Hotel was a refuge for writers and artists who would stay days, weeks or indefinitely. Among them were Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Bob Marley, Humphrey Bogart, Joni Mitchell, and Andy Warhol.

The doors were rescued from the trash in 2012 by Jim Georgiou, who lived at the Chelsea from 2002 to 2011, when he was evicted for failing to pay rent. Georgiou moved across the street from the hotel with his dog Teddy and tried to make a living selling vinyl records.

In 2012, Georgiou spotted workers preparing to throw out old doors and managed to recover more than 50 of them with help from friends.

After lengthy library research and interviews with neighbours, Georgiou identified 22 of the doors for association with famous residents.

Guernsey’s auction house, which is still tallying the total amount raised, late Thursday released information on the top sales.

Inspiring, experimental

The door to the room where musician and 2016 literature Nobel laureate Bob Dylan once lived went for US$125,000.

Late 60s pop icon Janis Joplin once had a tryst with novelist and singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen at the hotel, immortalised in the Cohen song Chelsea Hotel No. 2 That door went for US$106,250.

Number 105 was the home of Edie Sedgwick, the model and muse of Warhol, who filmed some of his Chelsea Girls experimental film in the room. That door went for US$65,625.

Beatnik poet and writer Jack Kerouac of On the Road (1957) fame also lived at the Chelsea. His door fetched US$37,500.

The door to the room where guitar legend Jimi Hendrix stayed sold for US$16,250, the same price that the door for a room once occupied at different times by singer Madonna and actress Isabella Rossellini.

Singer Joni Mitchell’s stay at the hotel inspired her to write Chelsea Morning. Her door went for US$10,000.

Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob Marley’s door sold for US$8,750, the same price fetched for the door to the room of artist Jackson Pollock.

The auction house said Georgiou pledged half of his proceeds to City Harvest, a non-profit organisation dedicated to feeding the needy. — AFP-Relaxnews

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