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Court grants 5 Pointz artists a 10-day restraining order, as long-shot battle to save building continues

Photo: George Burles

Oct. 17, 2013 By Christian Murray

The demolition crew tasked with the job of bulldozing 5 Pointz is going to have to wait–as the 5 Pointz artists were able to convince a Federal Court Judge today to grant them a temporary restraining order, which prohibits the developer from tampering with the building.

The decision follows a lawsuit filed by 17 artists last week against G&M Realty (the owner of the property), 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 claims that many pieces of work are recognized throughout the country and the destruction of the artwork would damage the artists.

The District Court judge’s decision to grant a 10-day restraining order was deemed by the plaintiffs as the first step toward getting a permanent injunction.

The plaintiffs hope the judge will come back before October 28 and announce a hearing for a preliminary injunction. At that point, the artists would be called upon to testify.

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.

She said that G&M Realty needs to get a waiver from each of the artists before it can remove their work.

G&M Realty could not be reached for comment.

Chanes said the Visual Artists Rights Act is narrowly defined and only applies to paintings and sculptures. Furthermore, work for hire would not be protected either—nor graffiti art that is done without the property owner’s consent (such as Banksy).

“Aerosol art would be considered painting,” Chanes claims. “Jeannine was here…would not.”

VARA Complaint 10102013 Copy


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John B – I agree that a certain degree of history and uniqueness should remain. It is important that different area’s keep some kind of identity and are not totally modernized to within an inch of their lives. But why at the expense of the owner. If 5 pointz is such a historic landmark, let the city buy and preserve it. Or one of these many many protestors that are fighting to keep it. It really isn’t the owners responsibility to lose money just so as LIC keeps it’s Penn Station.

John B

a-bidge – based on the views you espouse here, you would’ve been gleefully swinging a wrecking ball into the old Penn Station as well I gather. While the 5 Pointz is no where near as grand, the equivalency at the higher level is the same. Tear down the old that has an unique character and aesthetic value to replace it with the vacuous, sleek modern. While development is essential in a city like this, preserving New York’s uniqueness is also a must. I believe a balance can be found, but the last 10-15 years shows a worrying trend that developers have free reign, an all in the name of creating housing and services for a small percentage of New Yorkers and new arrivals.


is 5 pointz still open for people to see and visit? I want to make a trip out there before its no more smh.


Dear Irishgirl,

Thank you for your reply, it was almost dignified until the Pog Mo Thoin.

In regards to your husbands job, well done, but I would guess that your husband is the exception rather than the norm.

It is your opinion that the graffiti makes it better, I feel that it show’s urban decay worse than a decaying building alone. My argument here is not that the graffiti is there, but that the ‘artists’ now feel that they have some kind of right to the building and what is done with it. If I go and spray my name on the empire state and no one washes it off for a couple years, does that then make the empire state mine?

I’m not an artist in any way, so I could not replicate any of the ‘works’ nor do better, however, give me a wrecking ball and I’ll gladly accept your challenge.

Modern Architecture is a far more useful and valid art form than graffiti, time to move forward…


Dear a-bidge,

Please be sure you have your facts correct before stating BS on this article. As a wife of one of the artists who has painted 5P on numerous occasions I would like to point out the following

My husband has a full time office (shirt & tie job), he looks after his company’s largest & most valuable customer achieving all budgets & KPi’s set and he has been doing this successfully for numerous years.

If you think it is an eye sore now I would hate to think what it would look like with no artwork, just left to rot over the years.

I challenge you to produce something better than what is there…

Pog Mo Thoin,



@NYC Born and Raised, you are correct, I’m not originally from New York, but have lived in Queens for a very long time. You ‘born and raised’ Queens-ites are the problem with the LIC and the surrounding neighbourhoods, you are dinosaurs with an overly-sentimental view of the area. Manhattan is spreading out and as a result, Queens is growing up, it’s a good thing.

Without new condo’s and apartment buildings, the demand for housing increases; with increasing demand comes increasing rents, which I can guarantee, you local dinosaurs will also complain about. So let’s get rid of a useless beaten up old building, and replace it with something useful that will actually help the local area.

@WED3, it’s possible, one or two artists may make more than me, but how do you know what I make? It’s also not easily ignorable as I have to walk past it twice a day. Maybe you shouldn’t speak about what YOU don’t know. Pot.Kettle.Black.


This is just dumb, the art that is on this building is never permanent, its painted over and over and over and over by artist so no difference if they tear it down. just stop this BS already and move forward with this project.

art critic


As much as I’d like to see 5 Pointz survive, all this lawsuit will do is guarantee that no other property owner will ever let their building be used for art in the same way again. Between the legal hassles and the vilification, it’s just asking for trouble.

20 years was a good, long run.

What I object to is the city relaxing the zoning laws for the new building. That was total BS.

art critic

Re: above comment. Most New Yorkers don’t hate Banksy. A few insecure, envious, childish punks with zero artistic talent do.

New York is WACK!

I honestly hope they tear down your precious “5 Points”! Why? Because all the hate New Yorkers have towards outsiders. You all want to be “Pro Art” and be supportive. But after seeing every BANKSY piece dissed or slashed this month in your rotten apple this month, I will turn a blind eye and give you all a deaf ear. I’m from Los Angeles by the way. We don’t diss people like SEEN, FUTURA, QUIK, KAWS, Trusto Corp, etc when they pieces or murals in our Golden State! For shame!

New York = Haters & Hipsters!


This is just one more indication that creative and Bohemian NYC (and LIC, in particular) is in the final death throes. The place is pretty much done. Listen to the chest rattles.

Time to just admit it, roll up the tents and look for more fertile pastures some place else. It’s not the end of the world. You don’t need to pay $2500 a month to live like a chump.

Let the trust fund Asian and Euro hordes and Midtown project managers consolidate their LIC prize they’ve fought so hard for the past 30 years. Go crazy, you guys. Maybe some day you’ll finally reach the critical mass of Thai restaurants, wine bars, and doggy-daycare joints you seem to want so much.


LIC is becoming the concrete jungle of condos and more condos. The old school feel is quickly diminishing. To those who vote for the demolition of the building obviously do not care about the art and the history surrounding it. Such a shame to see this go one day.


@ a-bidge…You shouldn’t speak on what you don’t know. I’m positive few of those artist make more than you. And if it’s such and eyesore don’t look at it. There is a such thing as HISTORICAL LANDMARK!

Mike Jones

I respect Jonathan Cohen and his team for their efforts. I am a huge fan of graffiti and art etc… however the building is in extremely bad shape. I’ve been in real abandoned buildings and would say they were in better shape than the 5 Pointz building. The property owners probably would loved to build within the exsisting structure however they are well aware it’s not realistic. The 5 Pointz building is filled with black mold and asbestos. The inside of the building serves no purpose and is a hazard. (e.g. The Stairway collapse a few years back).

All this effort is like having a loved on on life support and you’re not allowing the doctor to pull the plug. The building is not gonna sit vacant forever and only going to detererate in time. If all these artists have this much time and energy to put into proving their point they deserve respect why don’t they find a new building or wall they can say they actually started and watch that grow over time and be able to say they’re proud of that.

Just my 2 cents…

NYC Born and Raised

a-bidge… youre obviously not from NYC … at least not from Queens NY where the building is… and as a native New yorker from queens i support the artists and wish for the building to stay up as hundreds of others who have lived here all our lives…


Yawn. Just demolish the eyesore already! The ‘artists’ need to remember that the owner let them use his building for their ‘works of art’ for years, they should have known it wouldn’t last forever. instead of all this bull they should realize they had a good run and be thankful for it. or if they want it that bad, pitch in and buy it from the owner, but then that would require atleast one of these ‘artists’ to actually have a job. The hoops the owner now has to go thru to demolish his own building is a joke!


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