Former Standard and Raleigh Hotel Owner André Balazs Accused of Groping WomenEXPAND
David Shankbone / Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr

Former Standard and Raleigh Hotel Owner André Balazs Accused of Groping Women

From 2002 until 2009, celebrity hotelier and jet-setter André Balazs owned Miami Beach's historic Raleigh Hotel on Collins Avenue. And until this past March, he ran the world-renowned Standard Hotels brand, which included South Beach's Standard Hotel, one of the best-known vacation properties in South Florida. Balazs is a regular on the Miami party circuit, popping up at celebrity get-togethers all over town and hosting events during Art Basel Miami Beach.

But multiple women now say that during his time running the Standard, Balazs was brazen about groping them without their consent. In a New York Times exposé released today, three women, including actress Amanda Anka (who is married to actor Jason Bateman), say Balazs grabbed them inappropriately.

Anka, for example, confirmed to the Times that Balazs reached up her skirt and grabbed her crotch at a party; she said Bateman then spat gum in Balazs's face and the couple stormed out of the event. A 26-year-old media executive who's the "daughter of a prominent Manhattan couple" (not named) said Balazs also grabbed her crotch from behind at a party once while she walked to the bathroom.

In a separate passage, one of his employees — at the ultrahip Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles — also told the Times that in the 1990s, Balazs pinned her against a wall and forced his fingers into her vagina. She gave the Times copies of emails in which she confronted Balazs about the incident earlier this year.

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One of Balazs's longtime assistants told the Times she never witnessed any inappropriate behavior but said she didn't know if any misconduct might have occurred at Balazs's many hotels, where he often stayed, including in Miami Beach, where Balazs reportedly enjoyed using the spa when he was in town. (Balazs didn't respond to multiple requests for comment on the accusations, the Times says.)

Balazs has previously dated actress Uma Thurman and comedian Chelsea Handler. Former news clips show he was a regular on Miami's high-society circuit. Balazs became a presence in Miami after he bought the Raleigh, one of South Beach's most storied properties, which has stood since the 1940s. Balazs's redesigned Raleigh became a go-to spot for celebrity-watching. In 2008, fashion designer Calvin Klein was photographed hanging out with Balazs there during Art Basel.

Balazs also opened the Standard in South Beach in 2006, taking over yet another historic property, the Lido Spa & Hotel that sits along the Venetian Isles. The Standard — along with its hip, open-air back bar and restaurant, Lido — remains a go-to hangout for Miami's tourist and local hipster contingents. (Balazs stepped down from running the Standard chain this past March after a skiing accident.)

According to photographs posted on the Getty Images website, Balazs in 2010 held a Playboy-sponsored party called Nude Is Muse at the Standard during Art Basel that year. According to photos from the event, fully nude women stood motionless in the middle of the Standard pool (that's a NSFW link) while nude women and men in body paint walked around the event. (There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but in light of the allegations about Balazs, it's worth noting.)

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Balazs remains a presence on the Basel party circuit: According to the Miami Herald, he attended a celebrity-packed soiree at the W South Beach in 2011 (alongside Paris and Nicky Hilton, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas, Miami Heat owner Micky Arison, and Heat general manager Pat Riley). The following year, he reportedly threw a party at the Shelborne South Beach. Last December, he was spotted at a party at Soho Beach House.

It's been a landmark day for sexual assault allegations: In addition to the claims against Balazs, women also accused U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and superstar comedian Louis C.K. of harassment and assault going back decades.

Have anything about Balazs' time in Miami you'd like to share? Drop an email to jerry.iannelli@miaminewtimes.com.

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