The man responsible for Studio 54 and the "boutique" hotel, Schrager no longer manages the collection of properties he created in the '80s and '90s, but remains an influential figure in the hotel world.
Ian attended Syracuse and St. John's Law before starting out his career in the early '70s as a real estate attorney. He soon quit the legal profession, teaming up with college pal and fellow Brooklyn native Steve Rubell, to take over a decaying theater in Midtown and debuted Studio 54 in September 1977. It immediately became the hottest club in town, a cocaine-dusted haven for the city's most glamorous. Schrager and Rubell were promptly transformed into New York's reigning nightlife kings, with short, nebbishy, gay Rubell as the gregarious face of the club and ladies-man Schrager in the background making sure everything ran smoothly. The pair's run came to an abrupt end in 1980 when they were jailed on federal tax income charges (see below.) But they went right back to work after their release, in 1984 converting the Executive Hotel on East 37th Street into the Morgans—generally considered the first boutique hotel—and jumping back into the nightlife biz a year later with the Palladium. They acquired the Royalton and the Paramount before Rubell died of complications from AIDS in 1989. Schrager continued to expand the hotel empire throughout the 1990s, establishing more than a dozen properties before exiting the company in 2005.
In 2005, Schrager severed ties with the company he co-founded. He's since focused his attention on real estate development and a new hotel chain. In 2006, Schrager unveiled the Julian Schnabel-designed Gramercy Park Hotel and the similarly luxe 50 Gramercy Park North. Schrager is also working on a new chain of boutique properties in partnership with Marriott, which has been desperate to up its hip quotient with the brand "Edition," and Schrager has his own brand of affordable hotels PUBLIC in the works.
Schrager and Rubell were charged with tax evasion after a raid on Studio 54 in 1978 uncovered $600,000 in garbage bags stashed in the rafters of the ceiling, plus the key to a safety deposit box that contained close to a million more. (The police also turned up Rubell's infamous ledger which accounted for all the coke he handed out gratis to A-list guests.) They ended up taking a plea deal, avoiding a longer sentence by cooperating with investigations into other New York club owners, and ultimately spent 13 months at a minimum-security prison in Montgomery, Alabama. [Image via Getty]