Andre Balazs, celebrity hotelier, is accused of groping

In recent weeks, several women have come forward accusing Balazs, 60, of groping them.
In recent weeks, several women have come forward accusing Balazs, 60, of groping them. PHOTO: NYTNS

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - In November 2014, the married actors Jason Bateman and Amanda Anka attended a dinner party at the Chiltern Firehouse after the London premiere of Horrible Bosses 2, in which Bateman starred.

The Chiltern, an 1889 fire station turned luxury hotel and restaurant, is owned by Andre Balazs, who built a hospitality empire with his boutique chain the Standard, the Mercer in SoHo and Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, California.

The movie's other stars, including Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, were also there with their guests. After dinner Balazs offered to take the group on a tour, leading them to an upstairs room with a view of London accessible by a firehouse-style ladder.

Anka was wearing a dress and was hesitant to climb the ladder, according to witnesses. But Balazs insisted. As she navigated the steps, these people said, Balazs slipped a hand under her skirt and grabbed her crotch.

Anka told the group what Balazs had done. Her husband and colleagues were visibly upset.

"I witnessed behavior by Andre Balazs that was inappropriate and offensive," said Mary Elizabeth Ellis, the wife of Day, in a statement.

Downstairs, Bateman confronted the hotel owner, spitting gum in Balazs' face. The couple hastily left the hotel, waving as they waded through paparazzi as if nothing had happened.

Last week, the couple confirmed the incident in a statement released by their publicist. "On behalf of Jason Bateman and Amanda Anka, we can confirm that the account of Andre Balazs' outrageous and vile behavior on that night in London is factual," the statement said. "His actions were dealt with at the time."

In recent weeks, several women have come forward accusing Balazs, 60, of groping them.

The New York Times left repeated and detailed messages regarding these accusations with Balazs, his executive assistant and his personal publicist, Pierre Rougier. The messages were not returned.

A former employee, Sarah, who worked briefly at the front desk of the Chateau Marmont in the early 1990s, is one of the women speaking up; she asked that her last name be withheld, fearing retribution from Balazs. Her account was confirmed by a friend she told a few years ago, and she provided emails she said were exchanged between her and Balazs in October addressing the incident.

A 26-year-old female media executive also said she had an encounter with Balazs, in 2013, in which he touched her without consent. The Times agreed not to name her because she had not told her father. Her account was confirmed by a former roommate who said the woman told her about the incident the night it happened.