Hip Hop Gossip

5 Pointz Graffiti Artists Awarded $6.7M For Whitewashed Art In "Groundbreaking" Case

Brooklyn, NY – Following a three-week trial last November, a judge has granted 21 graffiti artists $6.7 million after their work was destroyed by a land developer, according to New York’s PIX 11 News. 

The artists filed a lawsuit under the Visual Artists Right Act against real estate developer Jerry Wolkf — owner the Queens art mecca 5 Pointz — after he painted it over in 2013 and tore the building down a year later.

It served as the first jury trial citing that specific law.

On Monday (February 12), Brooklyn Federal Judge Frederic Block reportedly said Wolkf showed no remorse. The judge added he wouldn’t have awarded so much in damages had Wolkf secured the proper permits and waited 10 months longer to demolish the graffiti.

The 5 Pointz lot will be the location  upscale rental towers.

(The original version this article was published on November 8, 2017 and can be found below.)

The Queens art mecca known as 5 Pointz has been the center an ongoing court battle between land developers and 21 graffiti artists responsible for partially painting the historic building.

According to the New York Daily News, on Tuesday (November 7), Brooklyn federal jurors ruled primarily in the artists’ favor after a day deliberations in what is being heralded as a “groundbreaking” case. The jury’s decision was an advisory ruling, meaning that a judge will still make the final calls.

The large collective artists sued real estate developer Jerry Wolkf under the Visual Artists Rights Act, a 1990 law that protects artwork “recognized stature.” Therefore, the 49 pieces graffiti art Wolkf whitewashed overnight at the Long Island City spot four years ago were legally protected. This marks the first jury trial citing that specific law.

Eric Baum, attorney for the artists, said every artist was awarded damages. The 100-page verdict sheet is expected to be released this week.

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Legendary New York City graffiti artist and former creative director for Def Jam Recordings Cey Adams believes this is a step in the right direction to protect the work aerosol artists.

“The developers only wanted the land because 5 Pointz became this global destination for tourists,” Adams tells HipHopDX. “Artists deserve to be paid for their contributions to transforming neighborhoods and communities.”

While Wolkf’s lawyers declined to comment, Baum was adamant the whitewashing was intentionally “cruel.”

“The jury sided strongly with the rights the artists,” Baum said. “This is a clear message from the people that the whitewash the building by its owner Gerald Wolkf was a cruel and willful act.”

The 5 Pointz lot will be the location upscale rental towers.