[Photo yesterday via EVG reader Erin S.]
The last of the members of the Hells Angels who lived in their clubhouse at 77 E. Third St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue have moved out.
By yesterday, the Hells Angels logos had been removed from the building's exterior ... and the front door — featuring flaming skulls and a pitchfork-wielding, helmeted-winged demon — had been painted over.
Also gone: The plaque in memory of Big Vinny inscribed "When in doubt knock 'em out." (In 1978, according to published reports, Hells Angel Vincent "Big Vinny" Girolamo was arrested after throwing his girlfriend, Mary Ann Campbell, from the roof of No. 77 to her death. He reportedly died as the result of a knife fight the following year.)
[Image via Wikipedia Commons]
As first reported here in February, there's a Memorandum of Contract (the form preceding a contract of sale) dated this past Dec. 21 between Church of the Angels, Inc. (aka — The Church of Angels) and 77 East 3rd LLC ...
The document was signed by Bartley J. Dowling, president of the NYC Hells Angels chapter, and the purchaser, Nathan Blatter of Whitestone Realty Group.
In a cover story published Sunday at the Post, Blatter said that a deal hasn't been finalized yet. The units in the building are expected to hit the market as rentals.
The Hells Angels have had a presence in 77 E. Third St. since 1969. They eventually bought the six-floor building, which included their clubhouse and member residences (Realtor.com lists 14 units), from Birdie Ruderman in the Bronx for a reported $1,900. The deed on file with the city from November 1977 shows the then-dilapidated building changed hands for $10...
In 1983, chapter president Sandy Alexander took over ownership of the building. The deed from that time states that Alexander, his wife Collette and their family could live on the premises rent free. In addition, in the event that the building was sold, she would stand to receive half of the proceeds.
This agreement was later the basis for a legal tussle in 2013 between the clubhouse and Alexander's family. (Sandy Alexander, who spent six years in prison for dealing cocaine, died in 2007.) That deed was eventually reversed in April 2018, per public documents.
So why now for the Angels to move away? A member named Tony told the Post: "We're being harassed by the yuppies down here [who are] sitting on our bikes and pissing on the sidewalk."
And: "When the neighborhood was s–t, nobody minded us because we kept the place clean. It comes a point where it’s useless to be down here because of the harassment. [We want to] go somewhere we can live comfortably."
The yuppies have apparently been a problem dating to 1987, as this People magazine article from that year shows...
Some excerpts from the article, dated Sept. 7, 1987:
Across the street from the Angels’ clubhouse a banner touting co-ops for sale flaps in the fetid breeze. A partial rehab, featuring a fresh coat of tan paint over a soot-blackened facade, has transformed a sagging old apartment building into trendy housing for the affluent young. You might think that a beer can’s throw away from the lair of a notorious band of bikers would be a less-than-desirable homesite — and you would be right. That’s why a dark, airless, 400-square-foot, one-room apartment there can be had for only $68,000 (plus $388 a month maintenance), about half the going rate in the city’s tonier precincts.
The Angels ... view the neighborhood’s sudden ascension with mixed feelings. "We’ve moved up in social class without leaving the block," jokes chapter president Brendan Manning. But his smile can’t hide that tinge of resentment common to an area’s old families when the nouveaux riches arrive. As his biker buddy Butch Garcia notes, "We always kept this block clean when it was a ghetto, a slum. Now the rich people moved in and everybody’s trying to keep it clean."
Manning, 31, who lives in an apartment above the clubhouse, as do a number of Angels and their families, anticipates no trouble with the new upscale neighbors. "If they don’t bother us, we can deal with them," he says. "As long as they don’t complain and don’t call the cops and" — his barbarically handsome face grows stern — "don’t hit our motorcycles." He vows with a resolve as ineradicable as his tattoos that, even if the clubhouse becomes an island of sweaty denim in a sea of pin-striped wool, there will always be the Angels: "We were here first. We’re not gonna change. We don’t change for nobody. If they can’t handle it, they can move."
In 2009, the Angels started having issues with hostel guests from next door sitting on their bench. You may recall that episode here.
In recent years, there were other territorial issues involving parking spaces and their orange cones. In 2016, there was a reported shooting over a parking spot outside the clubhouse. And in late December, a deliveryman was allegedly sucker punched by a member when he parked his car in front of motorcycles outside the clubhouse.
No word yet on where the members may relocate. According to the Sunday Post: "The gang hopes to relocate to a neighborhood where they won’t be bothered by Starbucks traffic, pushy tourists and nosy cops." As Giovanni noted in the comments on Sunday: "I sincerely hope they enjoy their new home in Wyoming."