Aby Rosen destroyed the Gramercy Park Hotel and got away with it

Madonna, the Rolling Stones and John F. Kennedy slept there. Hunter S. Thompson hosted drug orgies in his room. And Humphrey Bogart married his first wife on the roof terrace in 1926.

But the famous Gramercy Park Hotel is now closed, stuck in a bitter legal battle between two of the biggest titans on Manhattan properties, and it’s not clear if it will ever reopen.

“We have a good relationship with [Gramercy Park] hotel and we are sad to see the restaurant on the ground floor closed, ”said Ben Hartley, CEO of the National Arts Club, located across the private park from the hotel. The Maialino restaurant was run by Danny Meyer. A sign on the door said it was “temporarily closed” and referred guests to its Twitter and Instagram pages for updates on when it will reopen.

“This weekend 12 years ago we opened @maialino_nyc, ”Meyer wrote in one Tweet November 12th. “Today we continue to wait for the GPH hotel to reopen so we can come back to cook for you. We also miss you, share the frustration and can not wait until the day we return.”

The hotel’s Rose Bar, also a celebs favorite, is also closed.

“The Gramercy Park Hotel was a great resource and it’s a shame it’s no longer open,” Hartley told The Post. “The hotel was really known as a creative space.”

Insiders blame real estate tycoon Aby Rosen for neglecting a gem in New York City in a will fight.

Gramercy Park Hotel
Gramercy Park Hotel is not running now as owner Aby Rosen has not paid rent.
Alamy stock photo

But this is not the first time a Rosen property has been in high-profile turmoil – he has also created controversy in Manhattan’s iconic Lever House and Seagram buildings.

“He’s a Philistine,” a Manhattan art collector told The Post of Rosen, 61. “He takes landmarks and he destroys them. He takes the soul of tent buildings.”

A real estate investor who has known Rosen for decades noted his “hardball” tactics and “brash” style of buying and selling real estate in New York. With the city’s hotel industry still spoiled by the pandemic and competition from AirBnB, making it harder to capture huge profits, Rosen is likely trying to get out of the hotel industry, the investor said.

“Aby Rosen is trying to negotiate a better deal for himself,” said the investor, who did not want to be identified. “If he can not negotiate better terms for the Gramercy Park Hotel, he does not care about losing the building.”

Through a spokesman, Rosen had co-comments.

Solil Management, which owns the land lease on the property at 2 Lexington Ave., sued to evict the hotel, controlled by Rosen’s RFR Realty, over a $ 80 million lease that was raised from November 2020 to April 2021. RFR had leased the land for $ 5.2 million a year, but stopped paying during the pandemic – claiming the lease was “worthless” amid the city’s decimated tourism, according to a legal complaint.

On September 30, Judge Robert Reed dismissed the case against Rosen and RFR, though his other holding company, GPH Ground Tenant LLC, may still be on the hook.

Hall of Gramercy Park Hotel.
The hotel has been a favorite among celebrities, including many rock ‘n’ roll bands and the Kennedys.
Alamy stock photo

As Page Six previously reported, in June 2020, Rosen Instagram took photos of “himself and his wife on the beach in the Hamptons, photos from his scattered modern artful Southampton mansion on the street called Billionaire Lane and also of the pool at his quaint spot in St. Barts during the pandemic. “

Now one of the city’s most iconic hotels risks being deleted forever.

Built on the site where author Edith Wharton and architect Sanford White once lived, the Renaissance-revival-style hotel opened in 1925. Joseph Kennedy stayed with his family for months, including 11-year-old JFK, before taking over his ambassadorship in London. in March 1938.

The hotel was long a favorite among celebrities. Bogart married his first wife, Helen Menken there, and Babe Ruth was reportedly a regular at the bar. But it first became a haunt for rock stars in 1973, with David Bowie checking in for two weeks.

Bowie’s label at the time, RCA, refused to book him at the more upscale Plaza Hotel uptown because his first US tour had been such a money-losing business, according to Rolling Stone. The British rocker and his stage crew stayed on Gramercy Park’s third floor – and turned it into an extended dormitory, where groupies snorting cocaine flew in and out of the bedrooms.

The place became popular with bands like The Clash, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Blondies Debbie Harry reportedly lived there for a while, just like Bono did.

He is a Philistine. He takes landmarks and destroys them. He takes the soul of tent buildings.

Art collector at Gramercy Park Hotels owns Aby Rosen

It was almost the only hotel in town where musicians could order a guitar string from room service or order cocaine “like a pepperoni pizza” from the doormen and chambermaids, wrote filmmaker Max Weissberg, whose grandfather Herbert Weissberg bought the hotel with 509 rooms. in 1958 and operated it until a year before his death in 2003.

Weissberg moved some of his family into the rooms, including Max, who would stay there for several months when he returned to the city from boarding school, the filmmaker said.

After Weissberg’s death, Rosen teamed up with partner and hotel owner Ian Schrager to take over the hotel. They hired artist Julian Schnabel to remodel the interior. Seven years later, in 2010, Schrager sold his interest to Rosen, who filled the space with works from his own private art collection, including works by Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Among the perks of hotel guests was access to Gramercy Park, the private park across the street that is famously only accessible to neighborhood residents.

Rosen, a surviving son from Auschwitz who arrived in New York from Germany in 1987, is no stranger to controversy in the real estate world. “I have no fear,” he told New York Magazine in 2008.

Years before acquiring the Gramercy Park Hotel, Rosen’s company negotiated a lease on another iconic Manhattan building – the landmark Lever House skyscraper on Park Avenue. But he defaulted on payments so long that the building was threatened with foreclosure.

Seagram building
Rosen caused controversy in his Seagram building when he dropped a Picasso mural that had been in the Four Seasons restaurant.
Stefano Giovannini

Rosen aroused the wrath of conservationists as he took over the Seagram Building and introduced design changes to the iconic Four Seasons restaurant. In 2014, he insisted on getting rid of a 20 x 22-foot Picasso wallpaper he dismissed as a “schmatte” that had hung in the restaurant for more than 50 years. The rose wanted to cram “Le Tricorne” into storage to change the wall behind. After an ugly legal battle in the New York State Supreme Court, the wallpaper was transferred to the New York Historical Society, where it is exhibited.

RFR also stopped maintaining the hotel’s property, which is “deteriorating to a shocking degree,” according to court documents. The facade needs urban work, and the hotel’s mechanical systems are in “poor repair”. The elevators need service and the HVAC equipment is “patched with duct tape”, according to court papers.

On top of that, Rosen, who was trying to renegotiate the long-term lease in 2019, removed the hotel’s art collection and stopped paying taxes. Rosen’s companies owe nearly $ 2 million in city taxes, according to public records.

Rosen’s companies – RFR and GBH – that run the hotel received $ 6.3 million in loans from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program in 2020 and 2021, legal documents say.

“Rosen has chosen not to operate the Gramercy Park Hotel and has kept it closed to paying guests,” reads court documents, which also claim that Rosen housed his mother in a three-bedroom suite at the hotel as well as employees of his RFR Realty company under pandemic. The lease specifically requires the building to be operated as a “first-class hotel,” legal documents state.

Celebrity fans of the once great Gramercy Park Hotel:

For Solil, it’s all part of what they describe as Rosen’s tough tactics of putting financial pressure on them to agree to his demands, which include converting the hotel into condominiums or replacing the lease “with a drastically different deal.”

Rosen’s lawyers have tried to dismiss the case, winning a victory last month when a judge ruled he was not personally liable for the basic tenancy at the hotel. He declined to comment through a spokeswoman last week.

Residents of Gramercy Park, many of whom told The Post that they had no idea about the protracted legal quarrels over the hotel, were eager for it to reopen.

“A lot of people used the spa and the other amenities,” said a doorman in the adjoining apartment building at 50 Gramercy Park North. The hotel also featured an exclusive David Barton fitness center, and many residents were regulars at Maialino, he said.

“They’re pretty sad that the hotel is still closed.”

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