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

Madonna, the Rolling Stones, and John F. Kennedy slept there. Hunter S. added. Thompson drug orgy in his room. Humphrey Bogart married his first wife on the rooftop in 1926.

But the Gramercy Park Hotel is now closed, mired in a bitter legal battle between two of Manhattan’s biggest real estate titans, and it’s unclear whether it will reopen.

“We have a good relationship with [Gramercy Park] Ben Hartley, CEO of the National Arts Club, which is across the private park from the hotel, said, “The Maialino restaurant was operated by Danny Meyer. A sign affixed to the door indicates that it is “temporarily closed” and referred customers to Twitter and Instagram for updates on when reopen it.

“12 years ago this weekend we opened Tweet embed,” Meyer wrote in A November 12th Tweet. “Today we continue to wait for the GPH Hotel to reopen so we can get back to cooking for you. We miss you too, share the frustration, and can’t wait for the day we come back.”

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

“The Gramercy Park Hotel was a great resource, and it’s unfortunate that it is no longer open,” Hartley told The Post. “The hotel was really known for being a creative space.”

Insiders blame real estate mogul Abby Rosen for neglecting this New York City gem in a battle of wills.

Gramercy Park Hotel
The Gramercy Park Hotel is not in business now, as owner Aby Rosen has not paid the rent.
Alami Stock Photo

But this isn’t the first time Rosen’s estate has been in major disruption — it has also caused controversy at Manhattan’s iconic Lever House and Seagram buildings.

He’s so young. He takes monuments and destroys them. He takes the soul of pavilion buildings,” a Manhattan art collector told The Post of Rosen, 61.

A real estate investor who has known Rosen for decades has noticed his “cruel” tactics and “reckless” approach to buying and selling real estate in New York. The investor said that with the city’s hotel industry still reeling from the pandemic and competition from AirBnB making it more difficult to make huge profits, Rosen will likely try to exit the hotel business.

“Abe Rosen is trying to negotiate a better deal for himself,” said the investor, who requested anonymity. “If he can’t negotiate better terms for Gramercy Park Hotel, he doesn’t care about losing the building.”

Through a spokesperson, Rosen shared the comment.

Solil Management, which owns the land lease for the property on 2 Lexington Ave. It sued to evict the hotel, which is controlled by Rosen’s RFR Realty, on an $80 million rent tab from November 2020 to April 2021. RFR was renting the land for $5.2 million annually, but stopped making payments during the pandemic — claiming that the contract Rent is “worthless” amid the city’s devastated tourism, according to a legal complaint.

On September 30, Judge Robert Reed dismissed the lawsuit against Rosen and RFR even though his other holding company, GPH Ground Tenant LLC, may still be in trouble.

Hall of Gramercy Park Hotel.
The hotel was a favorite of celebrities, including many rock ‘n’ roll and Kennedy bands.
Alami Stock Photo

As Page Six previously reported, in June 2020, Rosen was filming his Instagram photos of him and his wife on the beach in the Hamptons, shots from inside his sprawling, Art Nouveau mansion in Southampton on the street named Billionaire Lynn as well as of the pool at his home. A picturesque setting in St. Barts during a pandemic.

Now, one of the city’s most iconic hotels is in danger of being erased forever.

The Renaissance-style hotel was built in 1925. Built on the site where writer Edith Wharton and architect Sanford White lived, it opened in 1925. Joseph Kennedy stayed there for months with his family, including aged John F. Kennedy 11 years old, before taking up the post of ambassador in London in March 1938.

The hotel has long been a favorite of celebrities. Bogart married his first wife, Helen Menken there, and Babe Ruth was reportedly a regular member of the pub. But it didn’t become a rock star chase until 1973, when David Bowie scored a two-week hit.

Bowie’s company at the time, RCA, turned him down at the more upscale Plaza Hotel Uptown because his first US tour was such a lost venture, according to Rolling Stone. The British rocker and his stage crew stayed on the third floor of Gramercy Park – turning it into a sprawling dormitory where cocaine-drinking groups streamed in and out of the bedrooms.

The place became popular with bands like The Clash, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. Debbie Harry of Blondie is said to have lived there for a while, as did Bono.

It’s trivial. He takes landmarks and destroys them. Takes the spirit of the marquee buildings.

Gramercy Park owner Aby Rosen . art collector

Director Max Weisberg, whose grandfather Herbert Weisberg bought the 509-room hotel, wrote that this was the only hotel in town where musicians could order string guitar from room service or order cocaine “like pepperoni pizza” from doormen and room maids. 1958 and managed it until a year before his death in 2003.

The director said Weisberg moved some of his family into the rooms, including Max, who was to stay there for months when he got back to town from boarding school.

After Weisberg’s death, Rosen steps in with partner and hotelier Ian Schrager to take over the hotel. They hired artist Julian Schnabel to recreate the interior. Seven years later, in 2010, Schrager sold his interest to Rosen, who filled the place with works from his private art collection, including pieces by Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Among the perks for hotel guests was access to Gramercy Park, the private park across the street that is best known for being only available to neighborhood residents.

Rosen, the son of an Auschwitz survivor 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 he acquired the Gramercy Park Hotel, the Rosen Company negotiated a lease agreement for another iconic Manhattan building — the iconic Lever House skyscraper on Park Avenue. But he defaulted so long that the building was under threat of foreclosure.

Seagram Building
Rosen sparked controversy in his Seagram building, when he abandoned a Picasso mural that had been in the Four Seasons restaurant.
Stefano Giovannini

Rosen enraged conservationists when he took over management of the Seagram Building, and made design changes to the iconic Four Seasons restaurant. In 2014, he insisted on getting rid of a 20-by-22-foot Picasso tapestry he described as a “shammy” that has hung in the restaurant for more than 50 years. Rosen wanted to stuff “Le Tricorne” into storage to change the wall behind it. After a bad legal battle in the New York State Supreme Court, the tapestry was taken to the New York Historical Society, where it is on display.

The RFR has also halted maintenance on the hotel’s property, which has “deteriorated to an appalling degree,” according to court papers. The facade needs work mandated by the city, and the hotel’s mechanical systems are in a state of “shoddy repair”. Elevators need maintenance and HVAC equipment is “glue up with duct tape,” according to court papers.

Furthermore, Rosen, who attempted 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.

Court papers say the two Rosen companies — RFR and GBH — that operate the hotel received $6.3 million in loans from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program in 2020 and 2021.

Says court papers, which also allege Rosen has housed his mother in a three-bedroom suite at the hotel as well as employees from RFR Realty, the company, during the pandemic. The court papers say the rental agreement specifically requires that the building must be operated as a “first-class” hotel.

Celebrity fans at the Gramercy Park that had a great day:

For Sully, it’s all part of what they describe as Rosen’s ruthless tactics to put economic pressure on them to agree to his demands, which include converting the hotel into apartments or replacing the lease with a “completely different agreement.”

Rosen’s lawyers tried to dismiss the case, winning a victory last month when a judge ruled that he was not personally responsible for the hotel’s ground lease. He declined to comment by a spokeswoman last week.

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

“A lot of people have used the spa and other facilities,” said a doorman in an adjacent apartment building at 50 Gramercy Park North. He said the hotel also houses an upscale David Barton fitness center and many residents were regulars at Maialino.

“They are very upset that the hotel is still closed.”


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