Photo by Ezmosis on Wikimedia
An appeals court on Thursday upheld a $6.75 million judgement against a real estate developer who whitewashed 5Pointz, the former graffiti-covered complex in Long Island City. The 32-page decision confirms the decision made by the Federal District Court in 2018 that said developer Jerry Wolkoff of the Wolkoff Group illegally destroyed the building’s colorful murals. In 2014, Wolkoff razed the iconic graffitied warehouse, which had been visible from passing trains since the 90s as a studio and exhibition space for artists. The artists, who unsuccessfully attempted to sue to stop the demolition, filed a second lawsuit in 2015 against Wolkoff, claiming their artwork was of “recognized stature” and protected by the Visual Rights Act.
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Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Starting with the news that the iconic graffiti-covered warehouse known as 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens, visible from passing trains since its beginnings the 1990s as an artists’ studio and exhibition space, was being razed and replaced by rental apartments, the building has been the subject of heated controversy. As 6sqft previously reported, in 2013 the complex was whitewashed of its colorful exterior murals under cover of night, and renderings surfaced for the rental towers that would replace it; as if to add insult to injury, the building’s owner, Jerry Wolkoff of G&M Realty, revealed plans to use the name 5Pointz as a marketing angle for the new development. Several attempts were made at intervention–and prevention of a similar fate for artists’ spaces since then. Now, the New York Times reports, a federal lawsuit filed by 23 5Pointz artists against Wolkoff, who ordered the art destroyed, is getting its day in court. On March 31, Judge Frederic Block of Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled that the federal lawsuit against Wolkoff, who ordered the artwork destroyed–could have a jury trial, an incremental legal victory for the artists and a chance to confront Wolkoff in court to seek redress.
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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.
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5Pointz before being demolished via Garrett Ziegler/Flickr
Back in November we first got wind of G&M Realty’s plan to trademark the 5Pointz name and use it for their new residential towers at the site; now artists connected to the Long Island City graffiti mecca are fighting back. Father-son developers Jerry and David Wolkoff had their trademark application denied twice, most recently on January 6th, for being too similar to a California real estate company. Before their third go, artist Jonathan Cohen (aka MeresOne), who ran 5Pointz for ten years, has started an online campaign advocating to protect the storied name. So far the petition has 2,050 signatures, with a goal of 3,000.
More details on the 5Pointz feud
- 14 new proposals were unveiled for Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park yesterday, and despite local outrage over the development’s inclusion of affordable housing, the project will move ahead. [Curbed]
- 5Pointz site owners Jerry Wolkoff and his son David have released images of the space they’ve reserved for graffiti art. But will artists abide to the limitations? [NYDN]
- Architect Gene Kaufman has designed a black “boutique stylist hotel” temporarily called ‘Prime Hotel’ for 17 West 24th Street. [CO]
- A Goldman Sach’s investment banking chief sells off his Park Avenue pad for $17.45M [NYO]
- Greenland, of Greenland Forest City Ratner, plans to invest as much as $8 billion in new projects overseas this year, and it’s eyeing large projects in U.S. cities. [TRD]
- Bethany Frankel is apartment hunting in Chelsea. [TRD]
The 5Pointz replacement walls (left); BIG’s proposal for Brooklyn Bridge Park (right)