5Pointz Artists Sue Developer for Whitewashing Iconic Graffiti Facade

June 15, 2015

Photo via Garrett Ziegler/Flickr

It’s been 19 months since the 5Pointz graffiti mecca was secretly whitewashed overnight by the developers who have since razed the site to make way for the two residential towers that will replace it. Then, to pour salt in the wound, this past November G&M Realty announced that they planned to use the iconic 5Pointz name for their new project, infuriating the artists whose work adorned the building and leading them to launch a petition to stop the title.

Now, the plot has thickened. Nine graffiti artists filed a lawsuit on Friday “seeking unspecified damages from the owner who whitewashed away their artwork,” reports the Daily News. The plaintiffs claim they’re owed financial compensation as they were not given the opportunity to retrieve their work, much of which could have ended up in museums or the artists’ personal collections. The lost collection amounts to more than 350 graffiti pieces.

5Pointz demolition, Long Island City, G&M Realty
A photo capturing the 5Pointz demolition via changsterdam via photopin

This is the second legal battle for developer Jerry Wolkoff and 5Pointz artists. The latter sued Wolkoff in 2013 to prevent the demolition of the building. Though the artists lost, the judge at the time noted that their graffiti pieces may qualify for “recognized stature” under the Visual Artists Rights Acts, which says “works of art that meet certain requirements afford their authors additional rights in the works, regardless of any subsequent physical ownership of the work itself, or regardless of who holds the copyright to the work.”

5pointz, G&M Realty, David Wolkoff , 5 pointz, what will replace 5pointz, long island city real estate, new developments long island city
Rendering of the towers that G&M Realty is erecting via HTO Architect

Attorney Eric Baum of Eisenberg & Baum, who filed the suit last week in Brooklyn federal court, said “Our clients seek justice for the unlawful destruction of their artwork. This case will demonstrate that these cherished works of art must be protected to the fullest extent of the law. This case is not only brought on behalf of plaintiffs, but it sends a message to everyone that the unlawful destruction of artwork will not be tolerated. If anyone violates federal law under the Visual Rights Act, they must be held accountable.”

[Via NYDN]


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