The Doors That Once Opened Onto the Chelsea Hotel Rooms of Warhol, Pollock, and Others Are Coming to Auction
A former tenant of the Chelsea Hotel salvaged the doors from the trash.
There aren’t many hotels that can match the history of New York’s storied Hotel Chelsea, which has housed an unparalleled community of writers, musicians, activists, actors, and artists over the years. It was also where, in 1978, Nancy Spungen was found stabbed to death in the room she shared with Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. Now, in the latest nod to the landmark building’s cultural significance, the auction house Guernesy’s is holding a sale on April 12 of 55 of the original doors that once opened onto the rooms of Andy Warhol, Jack Kerouac, Jackson Pollock, Janis Joplin, and Bob Dylan, among other creative luminaries.
The doors are coming to auction courtesy of former tenant Jim Georgiou, who lived at the hotel from 2002 to 2011. That year, new owners acquired the Hotel Chelsea and closed the building’s doors to new guests in order to prepare for renovations. Georgiou fell behind on rent and was ultimately evicted.
Finding himself homeless soon after, Georgiou continued to avail himself of the hotel’s hallway bathrooms, and even spent a month sleeping with his dog in the lobby, thanks to a kind staff member. At one point, he asked construction workers what was to become of the old doors. When they told him they were going to be thrown away, he waited until the crew put them on the street and he collected them.
Although they are utterly unremarkable in appearance, researchers have been able to pin down that the residents who once lived behind roughly half of the hotel’s doors include Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Jon Bon Jovi, Dylan Thomas, Madonna, Liam Neeson, Iggy Pop, Tennessee Williams, Joni Mitchell, Mark Twain, W.E.B. DuBois, and Humphrey Bogart.
For those who fear the loss of the hotel’s authentic grittiness thanks to the still-ongoing renovations—following years of delays, the reopening is slated for 2019—these simple artifacts are reminders of the Chelsea as it once was, perhaps the lifeblood of the city’s creative ecosystem.
“My first impulse was to preserve them because of how much the Chelsea meant to me. They remind me of the incredible life I had there, and of all the lives of the people who have called the Chelsea Hotel home too,” Georgios told artnet News in an email. “From the deepest part of my heart I love the Chelsea. The doors are symbolic of a home, which, as I was homeless for two years, was incredibly meaningful for me.”
Ahead of the auction, the doors will go on view at New York’s Ricco/Maresca Gallery on April 5. The bidding for each door in the “Chelsea Doors” sale starts at $5,000 and a portion of the proceeds will go to City Harvest, a charity founded in 1982 to help feed hungry New Yorkers.
“Having been homeless myself, I appreciate all City Harvest does to help those who are in need of help,” said Georgios. “And giving back to a charitable organization, to me, honors the memory of the Chelsea. It was a place that was initially designed to be a collective—where everyone shared what they had with their neighbor.”
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