Nov. 12, By Christian Murray
The 5 Pointz artists were dealt a severe blow today when a Federal Court Judge ruled against them, virtually condemning the building to the wrecking ball.
Judge Frederic Block denied the artists a preliminary injunction, which would have stopped G&M Realty from demolishing the building while a lengthy legal fight took place. A temporary restraining order, which was issued twice in October dealing with the same case, was lifted.
The plaintiffs claimed that their street art should be protected by the Visual Artists Rights Act—and that if the owner demolished the building he would violate that Act. While sympathetic, the judge denied the artists’ motion.
G&M Realty is now free to demolish the building once the remaining tenants leave. Jonathan Cohen, the curator of 5 Pointz, is there until the end of the month and the remaining tenants expected to be gone by the end of December.
The last throw of the dice for the artists is to appeal Block’s decision to the Second Circuit. However, Block did not hand down his full written decision today, which would be the basis of the appeal. That is likely to come within the week.
The artists would need to get an Appeals Court Judge to grant them a stay—which would stop demolition until the case was fully litigated.
While the artists can continue with their lawsuit without a stay or a preliminary injunction, the building is likely to come crashing down while the matter is being decided in court. The artists would get monetary damages if they prevailed—but the building would be gone.