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Stanley Bard, Longtime Manager of the Chelsea Hotel, Dies at 82

By Maya Rajamani | February 14, 2017 2:31pm
 Stanley Bard.
Stanley Bard.
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Rita Barros

CHELSEA — Stanley Bard, the longtime manager of the iconic Chelsea Hotel who oversaw the legendary lodge during its heyday as a haven for artists and musicians, died on Tuesday at 82, his family said.

Bard, who underwent brain surgery in 2011, had been in fair health until last week, when he suffered a massive stroke, his son-in-law Matthew Grabell told DNAinfo New York.

He passed away Tuesday morning in Boca Raton, Florida.

Over the course of Bard’s 50-year tenure as manager of the Chelsea Hotel, the historic inn was home to dozens of renowned musicians, actors and writers, including Bob Dylan, Arthur Miller, Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen.

Bard — who earned a reputation for accepting art from residents who couldn’t afford to pay rent — was a beloved figure at the hotel, his son-in-law recalled.

“He gave life to struggling artists in all genres of art,” Grabell said. “He valued differences and individuality in people, and that’s what made them feel comfortable to succeed.”

When Bard's father passed away in 1957, he became the hotel’s manager and majority shareholder.

He was a constant presence there until 2007, when a group of minority shareholders ousted him and put the property up for sale.

“It was very sad, because the Chelsea Hotel was Stanley Bard,” Grabell said. “And without him there, it never recovered — it never was the same.”

After trading hands several times, the hotel was purchased by a group of hoteliers with plans to redevelop it into condos and hotel space.

Writer and hotel resident Ed Hamilton, who wrote of Bard’s passing on his blog, said the former manager did everything he could to keep the hotel affordable for its artistic tenants.

While Bard had the occasional disagreement with the hotel's rotating cast of characters, most of his guests viewed him as more than a manager, he said.

“He got involved in people’s lives and he helped them out — sometimes when no one else would,” Hamilton said. “And in a time when it seemed [to be] all about the bottom line, he was a rare sort of person indeed.”

Grabell described his father-in-law as "overwhelmingly generous, not only to his family, but to his tenants, strangers — just overwhelmingly generous and kind."

Bard was “almost singlehandedly responsible” for the hotel’s reputation as a destination for artists, Hamilton added.

“He was a true hero of the arts, of the kind that I don’t think we’ll see again,” he explained. “It was a sad day when we lost him, and there’ll never be another one like him, that’s for sure.”