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Is Patti Smith Supporting Hotel Chelsea’s Awful New Management?

Under most circumstances, the news that Patti Smith is playing a private concert at the Hotel Chelsea would be pretty freaking exciting. As she wistfully recounts in her memoir, Just Kids, Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe moved into the famous artist haunt in the early ’70s, when they were still impoverished unknowns. For $55 a month, they shared the hotel’s smallest room, thanks largely to longtime manager Stanley Bard’s faith that they would find a way to pay the rent.

What’s strange is that Smith (backed by Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan) is doing her tenants-only performance at an event this Thursday sponsored by Joseph Chetrit — the developer who is in the process of transforming the Chelsea from art-laden bohemian paradise into the gutted shell these photos show. The Hotel Chelsea blog is understandably confused about why she’s chosen to support Chetrit, especially when her tacit endorsement of the developer can be seen as a slap in the face to Bard, who was ousted from his post in 2007, and concludes that Smith must not realize who’s behind the event. Over at Gothamist, some of the hotel’s other residents say they hope she’ll cancel the appearance.

But this isn’t the first time Smith’s and Chetrit’s names have come up together. Back in August, ArtNet reported that, spotted in the hotel’s lobby, she suggested that she would serve as an advisor on its “subtle renovation.” We aren’t jumping to any conclusions without more evidence — and currently have a request in to her publicist for comment — but we sure hope Patti will pop up soon to dispel all the confusion.

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