Charity benefits as doors to Chelsea Hotel draw 6-figure prices at auction

Chelsea Hotel

Chelsea Hotel door to room once occupied by Bob Dylan. Auctioned by Guernsey’s for $125,000. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Guernsey’s

NEW YORK – A passionate crowd filled every inch of both the Ricco Maresca and Flowers galleries as Guernsey’s conducted an unprecedented auction of 52 doors removed from New York City’s landmark Chelsea Hotel. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

A homeless man had rescued the doors from demolition and then spent years researching links between these doors and the iconic people who once had lived behind them. In a totally selfless gesture, the homeless man pledged half of his proceeds to City Harvest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding those in need.

In short, the event was like nothing the auction world has ever seen before. Although well worn, complete with cracks and chips, the doors clearly reflected on the legacy of the legendary Chelsea Hotel, which is currently undergoing an extensive restoration.

Following is a sampling of prices Guernsey’s achieved for attributed doors. Bob Dylan, $125,000; Janis Joplin / Leonard Cohen, $106,250; Andy Warhol/Edie Sedgwick, $65,625; Jack Kerouac, $37,500; Madonna/Isabella Rossellini, $16,250; Jimi Hendrix, $16,250; Joni Mitchell, $10,000; Bob Marley, $8,750; Jackson Pollock, $8,750; and an unattributed red door with a striking painted eye, $12,500.

Chelsea Hotel

Door to Chelsea Hotel room occupied over the years by such celebrities as Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen, sold for $106,250. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Guernsey’s

The event attracted a huge international audience as media coverage circled the globe, and the sale was interrupted repeatedly by spirited applause. “It became clear that at a time of great political divisiveness, this auction touched many hearts,” said a statement from Guernsey’s.


Now in its 40th year, Guernsey’s is an auction house known for representing the most extraordinary properties. From the largest auction in history (the ocean liner S.S. United States) to vintage racing cars, Soviet-era artwork, pre-Castro Cuban cigars, and a $3 million baseball, the firm has few rivals when it comes to the presentation of wildly diverse artwork and artifacts. High-profile John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, Princess Diana, Elvis Presley, Jerry Garcia, John Coltrane, Dick Clark, Mickey Mantle and Beatles events were conducted by Guernsey’s, and the company is particularly proud of its work with the Library of Congress in the preservation of the complete Rosa Parks Archive.