Hells Angels ride off from E. 3rd clubhouse

BY MARY REINHOLZ | The Hells Angels have been vacating their notorious East Village clubhouse and residence in recent days, an exodus spurred by the apparent transfer of their six-story building to a buyer.

The new owner, Nathan Blatter, president of the Whitestone Realty Company in Brooklyn, said he was not available for immediate comment.

So where are the fearsome self-styled bad boys heading on their Harley hogs after 50 years at 77 E. Third St.?

“We don’t know,” said a lean, longhaired member of the famed outlaw motorcycle club. As he moved packing material out through the clubhouse door over the weekend, he shielded his face from this reporter’s camera. Two motorcycles belonging to Angels were parked outside. Across the street was a bright orange pickup truck splashed with yellow flames and the words “Hell Bound” pierced with a pitchfork symbol on its tailgate.

A pickup truck parked across the street from the Hells Angels E. Third St. clubhouse this past weekend. Maybe it’s an official Hells Angels’ moving truck? (Photos by Mary Reinholz)

Last Thursday, The Villager rang the bell on the clubhouse door repeatedly after learning the Angels were leaving. Finally, a muscular biker of middle age came outside, his face nearly covered by a sock cap and huge sunglasses.

“No pictures,” he said, declining a request to pose for a photograph. “But you can take photos of the clubhouse if you want.”

Was he going to miss it?

“Of course, I’m going to miss it,” the black-clad biker replied as he walked west toward Second Ave.

The building has some distinctive touches. The ground floor’s red-brick facade bears the Angels “death’s head” insignias. There’s also plaque commemorating deceased club president “Big Vinnie” Girolamo, along with his motto, “When in doubt, knock ’em out.”

The rotund biker died in 1979 before he could stand trial for allegedly throwing his girlfriend Mary Ann Campbell off the roof of the clubhouse to her death, reportedly because he believed she was an F.B.I. informant.

The federal government tried for years to shut down the clubhouse under a 1984 law that allows seizure of properties used for drug trafficking. In 1985, it was one of 12 “H.A.” hangouts raided by F.B.I. agents across the country. The G-men arrested 15 New York City members and confiscated drugs like cocaine.

The incident and the resulting convictions became part of an unsuccessful 1994 civil lawsuit by the government to take over the East Village clubhouse.

All that, of course, was a long time ago. Several newcomers to the East Village seem to revere the Angels as heroes.

A Hells Angels New York City Chapter member did now want his photo taken as he helped pack things up last weekend as the club was vacating its longtime E. Third St. clubhouse.

Three teenage female students who live in a dormitory run by the New York City Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, at 81 E. Third St., said they would miss the bikers’ presence on the block.

“I won’t be able to tell my friends anymore that I live next door to the Hells Angels,” one said, plaintively.

Nina Holton, 18, a Barnard student who was photographing Angels motorcycles on Saturday, said her mother lives on E. Third St.

“She’s upset and sad that they are leaving,” Holton said. “She feels they added character to the neighborhood and now they’ll be replaced by some developer who’ll build condos.”

Holton believes the Angels helped keep the neighborhood safe and provided a sense of community.

“I’d pass the clubhouse late at night, and a couple of them would be outside and they’d nod,” she recalled. “They were like eyes on the street.”

Others on the block are clearly terrified of them.

“They’re known for being menacing and they cultivate that image,” said a longtime block resident who asked only to be identified as a community activist. She claimed the Angels had “assaulted” a friend of hers and her boyfriend’s.

“I try to stay as far away from them as possible,” she said. “It’s a myth that they make neighborhoods safe.”

Where are the Hells Angels going next? The tailgate of the pickup truck, which certainly appeared to belong to the motorcycle club.

The woman noted that the Angels have become known recently for “ridiculous disputes over parking spaces and their stupid cones” used to reserve public spaces as their own.

“One of them shot someone in the stomach over a parking cone,” she said. She was referring to now-deceased Angel prospect Anthony Iovenitti, who was accused of shooting David Martinez, 25, in the early-morning hours of December 2016. A rumble erupted after Martinez had gotten out of his Mercedez- Benz to move an orange cone blocking his car’s way. Assault and weapons possession charges were dismissed against Iovenitti after he died at 52 of an aneurysm during a motorcycle trip in 2017.

Captain John L. O’Connell, commanding officer of the Ninth Precinct, said there were “no interactions” with the club since his arrival last year “except for one short fight.” In that instance, a 22-year-old deliveryman was allegedly sucker-punched in the face for parking in front of the clubhouse in late December 2018, according to the Daily News. O’Connell noted that his cops have taken away the Angels’ cones “because they’re not allowed to reserve spots on a public street.”

Criminal defense lawyer Ron Kuby has represented members of the club for years. He dismissed claims by some in law enforcement that the Hells Angels are into rackets and operate like organized crime.

“Think of it as a church,” he said of the group. “Members of clergy who violate the law don’t make the church a criminal enterprise.”

The New York City Hells Angels are actually incorporated in New York State as the Church of the Angels, a nonprofit religious organization. That name was used when club members purchased the property in 1977, for a reported $1,900. The moniker was used again last year in a preliminary memorandum of contract to sell the property to 77 East Third LLC, a limited-liability company linked to the aforementioned Nathan Blatter, EV Grieve reported last month. A 2013 court dispute over a deceased Angel president, Sandy Alexander, who had held title to the deed, was settled last year, apparently leading to a sale.

Kuby said he doesn’t know the buyer or the club’s current president “and I have no authorization to speak to the press with regard to the business sale.”

He also couldn’t provide a “nose count” on the number of members in the club. He only said that most of them are just “looking to be left alone and to ride motorcycles with their colleagues.”

23 Responses to Hells Angels ride off from E. 3rd clubhouse

  1. So sad to see them go.

  2. End of an era… good reporting.

  3. Enjoyed the story!

  4. They are gentle giants.

    They would not hurt anyone for no reason and some people don’t understand that.

    It felt safe knowing they were part of the furniture of our suburb.

    God bless them and I wish them the best.

    True Angles

    • I lived on that block (literally across the street) for 5 years in early 2000. I witnessed those gentle giants punching every kind of person (women, non-english speaking delivery drivers, taxi drivers, etc) in the face through their car windows any time anyone stopped a car near the motorcycles. Those club members are cruel and violent. That is why the block was safe, knowledgeable people did not want to be pugilated by those ruffians. Good riddance.

      • Unless you are man or woman enough to put your name on here, bad mouthing people, as I support the 81, then shut the Hell up! Don’t like what I say, Tough Tit!

      • It should be common sense to NOT park next to ANY motorcycle EVER. Along with the face he likely acted like a self entitled jerk off. Those guys are good guys, you don’t them then don’t run your mouth. Let’s come back next year and check the crime rate of that neighborhood, see how horrible they are then.

  5. It seems to me that residents seem to have forgotten that this was the only place in New York where there was no problems during the power cuts back in the 70's and 80's.
    Who the hell would run the risk of breaking into the wrong house there.

    • Power cuts, Peter Ashton? What are you talking about? There was a blackout July 13 and 14 in 1977. But there were no planned power outages in NYC.

  6. I lived across the street, they were no more or less annoying than any other “group” of neighbors that identify along some lines; cultural, ethnographic, religious, etc.

    If you respected them they respected you. I know I was safe because I didn’t offend them, much like I wouldn’t cross any group of people who had a set of beliefs that they held dearly but might not have been able to practice elsewhere.

    If anything, they were victims of discrand harassment.

    They will be missed.

  7. i was the sound engineer at the famous, no gone,like everything else good. They hung out there and at a rock club,great gildersleevee's down the street on Bowery. These guyswere cool with all the staff at the two clubs. I was a personal friend of a few of the guys and i once dated one's cousin. The people on the street loved these guys and thier friends… people seem to forget that from the late 60's until the late nineties you could buy heroin anywhere in the area except e3rd st between 1st ans 2nd ave…..most of the crybabies weren't even born then….the milinnial crybabies, as i callem

  8. Sherry Alfredo Long

    I have never road with a club but had many of friends that did and bikers are the most real down to earth people you will ever know my husband Tommy was killed up state New York on his motor cycle and it was a large loss for me but Tommy learned me all about riding and how it’s not a hobby but a life so I have myself a new bike and plan on starting a ride to let the world know that these so called gangs that everyone fears are the best people you will ever know. May Toe Jam Tommy ride and live forever


  10. Not an expert of that world, but I am 49 years old and have had them in my neighborhood for over 30 years. I know.most of the people in the neighborhood and most of the cops and I have never had an issue. More importantly, not one neighbor or cop I know has either. Maybe they are bad somewhere else? Don’t understand the concept of using legal means against others within the group. Every year for decades Politicians in ever growing numbers get nailed for corruption. Why not slap Rico on the others that either are aware or participating? Just an honest opinion.

  11. I love bikers I hung in the village in the late 60’s and never saw any violence from them.they were protecters,I’m sure they would be the ones capable of cleaning up NYC of all the violence today!!!God Bless them all on their journey ❤️

  12. Glad to see them out of the hood. They will be happier in hell 😂 Bye shit stains.

  13. Always loved them. They are the real thing. Show respect get respect. Simple premise

  14. so sad, at 70yrs old thought they would be there forever, so many mamories I have with e3 was there in 69 when the changed , sad only one aridegal left love them and respect them all,they were family

  15. I had the distinct honor,and pleasure,of knowing,and working with,and around the “Red and White” for 20 yrs at San Quentin State Prison,Ca from 1980 till 2000. I met guys like Doug “The Thug” Orr,

    Ray Ray Foulkes, Big Red, Johnny Hooper….and many others !!!

    If I never wore a badge…. I’d be an Angel…. plain and simple !!!!

    These guys support abused woman by going to court with them when divorcing,or testifying against their abusers. Escort school age children to school to face down their bullies…raise money for under privileged families facing hard times…




  16. I lived on that block in the 90s and zeros. Honestly never saw that much of them apart from Halloween fireworks time. Their presence didn’t deter the two muggers I encountered either! I hope they made a gazillion bucks from the sale. So long east 3rd.

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