Deal with the Devil – Who in the Hell Wants to Buy the Cecil Hotel?

The renowned and iconic Cecil Hotel in DTLA is once again listed for sale. But who would be so brave as to buy this infamous monument, known for its dark associations with murder, suicide, and mayhem?

When the Cecil Hotel opened in 1924, guests were enamored by its lavish rooms, grand marble lobby, stained-glass windows, alabaster statuary, and potted palms. However, it was just a short time before mysterious occurrences began dulling the grand hotel’s luster. Over the next century, history would serve downtown with a bloody cocktail of misery, intrigue, and unsolved murders.

The first of many ominous events took place in 1931, when guest W.K. Norton ingested poison, leading to his body being discovered by housekeeping days later.

Over the years, several suicides would follow: in 1932, guest Benjamin Dodich would shoot himself in the head; in 1936, Louis D. Borden would slit his own throat; and decades of jumpers that would leave the building almost completely surrounded by blood would follow. One of which somehow managed to keep his hands in his pockets the entire way down. On October 12, 1962, George Gianinni leaped to his death from the Cecil Hotel, taking innocent bystander Pauline Otton to the afterlife with him as his body struck hers just before hitting the pavement.

Who threw Satan in the mix? 

A baby thrown out of window, bodies ripped by electric wires as they hurled towards the ground, and other guests like Elizabeth Short, dubbed the Black Dalia in 1947, who was found tortured and mutilated, as if a victim of some heinous satanic ritual.

In the 1980s, the Cecil Hotel served as a short-term home for the ill-famed serial killer Richard Ramirez. Dubbed the “Night Stalker,” Ramirez developed a fascination with Satanism and the occult from an early age. One of Ramirez’s attacks left an 81-year-old woman with a lipstick-painted pentagram on her thigh.

In 1991, Austrian Jack Unterweger added another chapter to the grim history of the Cecil Hotel. He was found culpable for the strangulation and murder of at least three near-by sex workers, leaving a unique signature knot from each victim’s intimate wear, indicative of his killing style.

By far the Cecil Hotel’s most perplexing case revolves around virgin-like Canadian tourist, 21-year-old Elisa Lam. In 2013, Elisa’s body was discovered on top of the hotel, following grievances from guests about a peculiar taste in the water. This ultimately led to the discovery of her naked body in a water supply cistern on the hotel’s roof.

The Center of Attention

From Netflix specials to the signage uproar, the Cecil Hotel stays the center of attention of controversy when it comes to mystery and intrigue in downtown. As detectives fish through a century of unsolved murders, conservatives are still quick to protect the integrity of this Historical Momunment at all costs.

A recent signage change saw iconic “Hotel Cecil” stenciling bring social media uproar and a possible lawsuit to the Cecil’s long occupancy at 7th and Main. Despite its bloody past, advocates made it clear they wanted the Cecil to maintain its historical integrity even if the old signage did look like it was painted in blood. 

Because of its legacy the Cecil Hotel and its blood-stained past have become one of the world’s most notorious places to stay and, macabre enough, one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions.

Fresh Blood

Following years of numerous unsolved and horrific murder and suicide cases, a section of the hotel underwent renovations in 2008 following a change in ownership. In an attempt to embody a fresh start, the hotel was rebranded as Stay on Main in 2011.

2014 saw the hotel being sold to New York City hotelier Richard Born for $30 million as Simon Baron Development, a New York-based firm, took on a 99-year ground lease for the property.

The subsequent year, in 2016, Matt Baron, CEO of Simon Baron Development, voiced a strong commitment to preserve and protect the architectural and historically significant aspects of the building. In 2017, renovations were set in motion.

However, in 2021, the Cecil Hotel was resold and reopened as an affordable housing complex managed by the Skid Row Housing Trust.

In 2023, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, the formally unhoused inherited a Cecil Hotel in deteriorating and dilapidating conditions plagued by sanitary plights such as water leakages, vermin infestations, and black mold.

Consequently, in March 2024, Simon Baron Properties, the owners of the Hotel Cecil, placed the hotel on the market.

Who will buy the Cecil?

Undoubtedly, it will be an entity that possesses the genius and foresight to transform the Cecil from a symbol of death, fear, and agony into a beacon of love, pride, and endearment for the residents of Los Angeles and the nation as a whole.

Author: Hanny Playa

Lover of all things music. Seeker of the highest frequency. When I’m not writing or attending concerts I’m marching to the beat of a different drum.