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Couple sues Chelsea Hotel after 2 years without water and electricity

Couple sues Chelsea Hotel after 2 years without water and electricity

A family has been forced to move out of their apartment at the historic Chelsea Hotel after renovations left them without electricity or running water for two years, according to a new lawsuit.

Artist Philip Taaffe and his wife Gretchen Carlson are the latest rent-stabilized tenants to sue the new owners of the Bohemian haunt on West 23rd Street over the alleged conditions, which they say are part of a harassment campaign to push them out.

Ira Drukier bought the building in 2016 and complaints and lawsuits from at least seven tenants have interrupted the Victorian building’s makeover, NY1 previously reported.

Taffee, an abstract painter, and his wife and three sons, ages 11, 13, and 16, had to leave their spacious three-bedroom apartment, which was once the home of composer Virgil Thomson, due to the shocking conditions, according to the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit. It’s not clear when the couple relocated.

“Defendants have engaged in deliberate and continuing acts of harassment and vandalism in the apartments that have destroyed plaintiffs’ residence,” the suit charges.

The family has been without refrigeration, an operable kitchen sink and bathroom toilets, the court papers state. There has also been no heat since the fall of 2019.

Workers ran three metal waste lines through the couple’s walk-in closet in 2018 and drilled a pair of large holes in the living room ceiling. On top of this, the family has had to endure constant dust and water leaks, the papers allege.

Despite repeated requests, the Chelsea Hotel’s owners have refused to remedy the conditions, according to the filing.

The Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan.
The Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan.Gregory P. Mango

The couple is seeking a rent reduction, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees for the alleged campaign of harassment and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Taaffe sued the previous owners in 2014 after a piece of his art that had been displayed in the hotel lobby since 1997 was removed and not returned to him.

Among the famed hotel’s residents are countless legends — including Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and Sid Vicious, who was charged with stabbing his girlfriend to death in 1978 in one of its rooms.

He died of an overdose while awaiting trial. The building is being turned into a luxury hotel and condos — but the renovation that started about a decade ago — has been mired in financial and legal woes.

After some of the tenants sued Drukier over the seemingly endless construction, which resulted in a stop-work order, other residents staged a demonstration earlier this year begging for the restoration to continue.

A lawyer for the hotel didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

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Evan Lewis

Evan Lewis

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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