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5 Pointz artists win small battle in their war to save graffiti mecca

Photo Courtesy of George Burles

Oct. 29, 2013 By Christian Murray

The 5Pointz artists just won’t go away.

The artists, who filed a federal court lawsuit against the owner of the so-called ‘Graffiti Mecca’ on Oct. 8, were able to convince a judge to extend their existing temporary restraining order another 14 days—thereby stopping the owner, Jerry Wolkoff, from demolishing the building through Nov. 12.

The judge, Frederic Block, also called for a hearing as a means to determine whether he should issue a preliminary injunction. A preliminary injunction, if granted, would stop Wolkoff from demolishing the building until the lawsuit was resolved, which could take well over a year.

Block’s ruling follows a lawsuit filed by 16 artists against G&M Realty (Wolkoff), which argues that the building cannot be destroyed since it would undermine the plaintiffs’ artwork as defined by the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act.

The lawsuit, which is a long-shot, claims that many pieces of work are recognized throughout the country and the destruction of the artwork would damage the artists.

Jeannine Chanes, the attorney for the artists, said that the artwork should be protected since it was completed post 1990 (when the Act was introduced), is highly acclaimed, and was done with the permission of a property owner. Therefore, she said, the artwork cannot be altered without each artist’s consent.

However, Wolkoff’s attorneys have argued in court that the artists always knew the building was going to be demolished and that they had very little reason to believe the art would be up their permanently.

Wolkoff could not be reached for this article.

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13 Comments

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LICer

Sev: FYI, Jason is as white as you are! Don’t insult Asians just because they are smarter than you!

Reply
art critic

so, if they have a certain amount of “affordable” housing units, does that mean the rest of them are unaffordable?

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anonomous2

Maybe the city can build a tribute wall feet from where the building stands now for the artists to paint new work. That way the building could be reconstituted to provide affordable, livable housing as well as enjoy the art.

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Ro

Anonymous, I totally agree. I think that the people that are looking to save 5Pointz went at it all wrong. Instead of trying to commandeer the property, they should have lobbied the city to only approve the extra developable square footage – if at least 70 to 80% of the of the existing shell was saved and used as a canvas. I guess the affordable housing advocates are better at this game.

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Sycamore

I don’t agree. He had the place for years and it was such a wreck the only thing he could do with it was rent it to desperate people, artists, who have turned his property into a masterpiece. If he could have made a better deal he would have, he is a businessman. The artists add value, the businessman takes value out and calls it “profit.” Some “smart” businessmen are nothing but profiteers.

He not only wants to build on the site, he wants a special exemption from the rules so he can take more profit than the zoning allows. Honest businessman my foot.

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Anonymous

the building – as it stands – is great.
but the guy didnt pay a crap loud of money for the building to just make it a big drawing board.
perhaps there can be a compromise….allowing parts of the building to be kept on site…so it can be around for a while and future generations can appreciate it.
making the guy who purchased the property just eat the investement seems silly.
he has been nice enough over the year to allow for the building to turn into a wonderful place. no other develeper has been as generous in that regard.

Reply
Sev

Let’s just wipe out every trace of culture, raze all homes and build co-ops and condoes on every square inch of Queens so that the cockroaches cant squeeze in between! Ridic & disgusting

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jason

STOP the BS already and tear this crap down! Some people pull the plug on human life faster then it takes to get this eyesore & unsafe building knocked down!!!!!!!!!!!

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Ro

I love 5Pointz, but this is ridiculous. The landlord was kind enough to allow all these artists use his building as their canvas for years. I am sure that back then the landlord didn’t agree on donating the building as well. This is too bad because here is land owner that did something positive with his property while he let his investment mature and now he is being demonized by the same group he helped. I guess no good deed goes unpunished.

If this lawsuit is successful than it will set a precedent and it will discourage any land owner from allowing their property to be used for art installations. This is sad because the city and the art community will suffer for it.

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