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Owner of 5 Pointz: ‘I whitewashed the building to stop the torture’

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Nov. 19, 2013 By Christian Murray

The owner of the iconic 5 Pointz building sent in a crew of painters in the cover of darkness to whitewash the building in the early hours this morning.

The artists discovered that their art was gone shortly after dawn, tweeting: “5 pointz is gone building was painted overnight…”

A paint crew, along with police protection, came around 1 a.m. and finished around 7 a.m.

Jerry Wolkoff, the owner of the 5 Pointz building, said he sent in painters to bring the battle with the artists to an end.

“I whitewashed the building to stop the torture,” Wolkoff said. “They [the artists] had to take their medicine,” he said, adding that “they will be upset with me for a day or two … and then everyone will be over it.”

Wolkoff said it would have been extremely difficult to demolish the building piece by piece, art work by artwork.  “If I was able to implode the building I would have,” he said. “This way it is now done.”

He said he did it in the early hours of the morning to avoid conflict. “The last thing I wanted was people getting arrested.”

However, the artists viewed Wolkoff’s action to paint the building as underhanded and as a historic loss.  “Biggest art crime committed by Jerry Wolkoff… 5 Pointz Genocide,” the group wrote on twitter.

The paint over occurred as the 5 Pointz leaders were starting to launch a bid to landmark the building. At a rally held at the building on Saturday, they were handing out landmark petition forms.

Wolkoff claimed that the artists would never have been able to landmark the building. “My building is a piece of crap with no architectural significance,” he said, and the artwork kept changing.

The building is expected to be replaced by two residential towers– one 41 stories and the other 47 stories tall. The developer’s plan was approved by the New York City Council.

Marie Cecile Flaguel, who represents the artists, stood outside the 5 Pointz building this morning and was in tears. She did not want to comment.

Wolkoff said that claims that he was an art criminal were ridiculous. “If I were an art murderer I wouldn’t have allowed them to paint all these years.”

He said that he loved the art that they do. “It made me cry when I saw them painting over it,” he said.

A peaceful candlelight vigil will be held for 5Pointz  at 5 p.m. this evening.

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46 Comments

Cheryl

I’ve lived across the street from 5 pointz for 16 years. Before I moved, my father lived here. I have so much history with 5 pointz. I was NEVER afraid to come outside at night on my block because I knew everyone there. Now, my block is just a dead end, a scary one at that. Whoever sits there and writes that the artists have NO rights, please get your facts straight. First off, the Wolkoffs NEVER maintained that building at all! It was rat infested, had fire hazzards, asbestos contaminated, oh and BTW the staircase FELL! Nonetheless with someone on it! Who, was badly injured, and took them forever to settle in court. That place could’ve been an AMAZING place to go to. It could’ve been more like an art museum. So many movies and shoes were filmed there. They made money off that building and off the artists.




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Dorothy Morehead

@Mundonyc13
Pat was a great guy–gruff on the outside but a heart of gold inside. He loved you guys and wanted so much to see you on the right track.

Pat also started Operation Snowwatch in which work release inmates from the Queens Correctional facility in LIC shoveled the sidewalks of senior citizens. He certainly touched many lives.




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Mundonyc13

@Dorothy Morehead
I did community service under Pat DeLillo years ago when I was a kid. I knew him briefly but it was enough to see he was a good guy. Very sad to hear he passed.




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a-bidge

@Time’s Up, once again, you hippie keyboard warrior fucks have missed the point. I’m not even going to bother trying to get my point across, the stupidity on here astounds me at times.




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Dorothy Morehead

Before there was 5 Pointz, there was the Phun Phactory, started by Pat DiLillo as a legal venue for aerosol art. Pat had previously started Graffiti Terminators to rid Sunnyside and Woodside of the many graffiti tags which had blighted those communities. His interaction with the (mostly) young men gave him an understanding of their need for self-expression. He received permission from Mr. Wolkoff to use his buildings for their art. Pat passed away last month with a photo of 5 Pointz by his bedside.

Mr. Wolkoff has agreed to provide a legal space for aerosol art on his new building as well as space for artists to live and work at below-market rent. Rather than vilify him, the artists should cooperate with him in preserving public art.




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Time's Up

“In regards to my comment about affording a condo, that was not purely based on the artists, but also the people on here that feel that they deserve something just for being born. I’m tired of the hand out culture.”

No, it was purely based on ignorance, as if you have any idea what the socioeconomic status is of those who lament 5 Pointz’s destruction. Guess what? Those who are sad to see it go (note – I’m not talking about those who wrongly believe the artists have a legal right to stop the owner from selling it) number in the millions. If you doubt that then just check out the posts here from people overseas. I guarantee you that, given this variety, you will find a broad range of income. And the comment was equally dumb because, as you see, there are a large number of supporters here on this site. Guess what? Many of these supporters who read this site regularly live in – wait for it —— CONDOS!

You’re tired of the “hand out culture,” whatever that is. I’m tired of ignoramuses spewing nothing but negativity, bigotry, hatred, and nonsense strawman arguments with no basis in reality. If you can’t see why lots of people are sad to see this place go, then I can’t help you. But why instigate and write vacuous nonsense? If you have nothing nice to say, perhaps you should just bite your tongue (or fingers) and shut the fuck up.




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Mundonyc13

Wow I did 24 hours community service there 15 years ago, it was beautiful, what a shame. I guess soon enough it will be another souless high rise with a Starbucks around the corner.




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DAS

I never like the artwork on that building, but c’mon, soooo many kids RENTED space in that building for years, and, the building was literally falling apart WHILE he collected a lot of checks. The owner made a lot of money off that decrepit building.

It was a cultural icon for many.
I personally was never into it at all really, but I can understand why people care.

The people that don’t have empathy for the artists – I’m not understand that part. Please clue me in.




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Michael

The people incessantly whining over 5pointz need to face reality. It was his building, he decided to sell it when he was given the opportunity, no big deal. If someone offered you millions to sell an old building with paint on it, I’m pretty sure you would sell it too. Cultural significance doesn’t matter when millions of dollars are up for grabs.




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LICer

@ Reason: this story teaches us that no one can be a nice person! Once you gave something, they believe it’s theirs even the owner will give 10,000 sq feet of art place in the new condo which no any owners in the world would do that. Greedy, shellfish , and disgusting for these “artists”




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a-bidge

@Reason, I’m not confusing anything. I understand that the artists were allowed to paint on the building. My arguement, once again, is that they then felt ike that gave them some kind of ownership or rights, when it clearly didn’t. In regards to my comment about affording a condo, that was not purely based on the artists, but also the people on here that feel that they deserve something just for being born. I’m tired of the hand out culture.




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Jamie

I’m not from New York, matter of fact I’m from the UK but I know how much 5pointz had a positive impact on cultural learning etc. As a big fan of the hip-hop culture and an influenced youth to say the least, I can you tell you that one of the predominant teachings of hip-hop is bringing people together and 5pointz could be seen as the pinnacle of this. I have been saving money to come over to NYC to see the prestigious building in all it’s glory along with the iconic points and landmarks where my culture began. For those to emphasise that graffiti is not art is a somewhat idiotic remark – for what reason is graffiti not art? Because it can be messy? Because gangs use it as a territorial mark? In that case, the genre heavy metal, is not music; it is just long haired men playing numerous notes to make noise. How ignorant would you think I was then? Or if I said the same of classical? The building actually generates a revenue as people from all over the world travel to see it therefore having a negative impact economically for the city. And by painting it all white therefore creates hatred and also a whole new canvas for the writers. Rookie move




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jan-michael

Thank god it’s gone, it was a giant sham.Legal graffiti is a joke, it’s as anti authoritarian and punk as avril lavine.




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Reason

To @a-bidge, @sasha, and @number1:

I think you are confusing the graffiti art at 5 Pointz with the sort of sprawl common in back alleys, on bridge overpasses, and on the sides of trains. The work done at 5 Pointz was not only allowed by the owners, but the quality of the art was impeccable. In fact, the quality of the art drew artists from the world over. One such artist includes renowned street artist Banksy, who recently sold his pieces incognito on the streets of NYC for ~$60; one piece had a limited edition version that was purchased at an auction for $249,000.

5 Pointz was truly a cultural landmark that inspired awe and admiration from those in NYC and around the world. Personally, I believe there should have been other measures taken earlier by those who supervised the art, but that short-sightedness does not discredit the fact that 5 Pointz was extremely remarkable and one-of-a-kind.

Specifically to A-Bidge: I find it offensive that you would label an entire group of people as not being able to purchase an affordable condominium based upon their artistic preferences; it’s akin to looking down on an entire ethnic group simply because you do not have the palate to appreciate their food. In that sense, you ARE narrow-minded.




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never147

Who gave anyone the right to build on the land first, who gave them the right to replace grass and trees? Who gave them the right to replace the sight my eyes would have had of the horizon or the sunset the building would have blocked? The surface is reclaimed. The view is replaced with colour and culture. I would welcome every surface to be covered freely with expression and views. Art is life. Concrete, brick and possession is a cage on your mind when that is all you see. The art took that back.

The answer is no one has the right to take what you can see and destroy it. Whether that is the people who took homeland away, or developers who build or owners covering art. Possession is something we (humans) have created. Nothing *belongs* to us.

The good thing is that there will always be a surface to cover. Things come and go and come again in new forms. That is the way of life. There will always be someone with a thought or an idea or a view. To suppress that is to enslave.




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jimmyd93

It really upsets me that i’ll never get to see 5 pointz, I am travelling to new york in 3 months for my 21st birthday and this was at the top of my lost to visit! Absolutely devastated.




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Tash

I’d just like to say that I’m not part of graff culture or from New York. I have never been to NY. I am part of hip hop culture though. Coming from a privileged background in the UK I still can’t say I know much about graffiti. But I have learned through just a few years exposure to hip hop that it is not just a bunch of people vandalising buildings. It is a legitimate art form, with many artists, should they wish to, having galleries and selling pieces to wealthy professionals. I understand that not having been exposed to this culture it would be difficult to understand or to appreciate. Hip hop is not about fuck the people or hatred against anyone or being badass, it is about people coming together from across all backgrounds and creating something positive, unified and humanistic out of deprived or difficult circumstances. Anyway, I’m here in London and I know about and care about 5pointz. I think the community and the owner should reconsider a way in which the cultural heritage can be preserved in a way in which people (including him) can benefit. I am sure that the community that thrived around 5pointz would be happy to support the owner in creating something even better and more prosperous than before should he be willing to consider it. Anyway, even if things continue and the building is turned into apartments, graff and hip hop culture will continue to thrive. Because we are positive people! For all the artists, thank you for sharing your work with us. Keep positive and use every obstacle like this as fuel to grow and connect with even more people. One day even the most negative people will come to appreciate what its all about. 🙂




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Maria

The more i live in this country the more i hate money culture. I very rarely hate people, but i wish Wolkoff to suffer from being disrespected all his life.




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Chris

Stupid hipsters get over yourselves. Stop crying over this crap. Kids in the preschool finger painting do better work.




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marie

christian i did not refuse to comment , I told you to fuck off … these were my words … and i own them
Jerry wolkoff was on site till he heard we were showing up and left , if he felt so bad why did he leave .. you obviously quoted him and he was at 5 Pointz where were you ?? .. I wonder seating in his comfy car ??
fear of confrontation ? really like fear of a riot at saturdays rally … seriously
no wonder why you write for a blog no one will hire you , you have been the bias platform for G&M and Jimmy Van Bramer , when no newspaper can get a quote you get them , why because you print without questionning in hope of a paycheck … so long , christian go back to writing about dog parks rally and cup cake club , I dont see anything relevant in your future …




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That guy

Lot’s of the arguments of how it was a good thing point to this property thing. Property is a concept. It was invented. Don’t fall back on it like its god’s will or part of some great truth. The truth is, America stole a lot of land from others and it then became their “property”. Slaves were considered property. Wake up and look at whats really going on! Its large corporate interests winning over a culture of art that has been in new york for decades. And if you don’t like this example of it, how about that large corporate interests in nyc that are making impossible for longtime residents to continue to live there? Or making small business owners move out? There is an evil at work here, and compared to this art that you seem to hate, its quite a lot bigger and much more dangerous.




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hip x hop

with the loss of 5 pointz comes the loss of history in the hip hop culture people who are saying “good riddance” have no idea what positive aspect came from 5 pointz. you had people from ALL OVER THE WORLD fly out of their country to see this art work some to even leave a piece that they put so much work in to,on a building that someone had allowed people to paint on. you had most people off the streets and gave them a place to go. now you can’t be mad when someone tags your house because you’ve taken it away.




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Ax579

Outside of ny and outside of graffiti culture, no one gives a sh*t about five points. Preserving culture does not apply here.




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Sean

I’m going to miss that King Kong…They shot him down, they shot him down. They thought he was a monster, but he was the king.




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a-bidge

The funniest thing is, those of you bitching about 5 pointz being demolished, will probably be the same people bitching about how they cant get one of the affordable homes in the new condos!




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a-bidge

@ArtBoogie, I’m narrow-minded because I don’t like graffiti? You are ridiculous. I’ve argued my opinion on this many times, but there are some very thick skinned and rather un-intelligent people on here, so let me break it down.

I do not like graffiti and I do not think a building full of it is a nice thing to look at, BUT, I can understand that some people do not feel the same as me. I PERSONALLY am glad it is going to be torn down, but again, I understand that this is MY opinion and not that of everyone.

If 5 pointz is such an important landmark (which I personally do not believe it is), why should it be down to the owner to fund it? If all the artists and locals think it should stay so badly then maybe some of them should have done something about it, either raised the money yourselves or asked galleries/museums and/or the government, to step in and buy the building. Since the owner is still going to tear this down, I would assume none of the above was done.

The owner let the artists use it for long enough, and whilst it was in the artists favor it was fine, but now he actually wants to do something with the land, now he is a villain etc etc.

At the end of the day, what the owner has done is within his rights, and its time for everyone to get over it. Just like those people that wish to complain about us that are glad to see it gone. But I guess not agreeing with you must make me narrow-minded.




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RepubLIC

To number1isdumb: your grand grand grand father should never come in this country to destroy what Indians left!!!!




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scotty

Ancient Egyptians also performed iconoclasms where new ruling families destroyed the art of previous dynasties. They weren’t so noble about it either. As far as I see it, the “cool” thing about graffiti is that it is given away. It’s mounted on someone else’s property and this is what happens when you do that. There is a convention in place if you want to claim ownership of your art. There are plenty of places where artists are commissioned to paint in public places rather than under some province of vandalism. It’s very interesting and challenging to read all about this and to hear who thinks they own what and why.




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40th Street

So it made him cry but he had to “end the torture” and force the artists (and art appreciators) to take our medicine? That is a real contradiction. What a shady move pulled in the middle of the night… how does a white washed wall look better than that gorgeous art work!? Why not let us enjoy the art until the building is demolished? I know that graffitti is ephemeral, but what a jerk.

I will really miss seeing the stunning paintings on my 7 train commute every day. The art really made Queens special… and now it is destroyed, and you can’t deny it is all for the mighty dollar. Disgusting.




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ArtBoogie

MY above comment was for the narrow-minded Sasha, Number 1 and A-bridge. Everyone else knows what they are talking about.




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ArtBoogie

Um…half of you people here leaving comments haven’t a clue to what you’re talking about, like Sasha and Number1. And I’m sure some of you leaving comments likely do not know what 5 Pointz was all about or ever visited there during a showcase and quite frankly, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT FROM NEW YORK. First off, The owner ALLOWED the artists for years to showcase their art there and yes, the graffitti art there was AMAZING! Where not talking about bullshit writing graffitti, we are talking ART.

If the owner needs to build property, it is his right. But he should keep some small piece of 5 Pointz history there, to show the new future residents how iconic this place was. Artists will be upset but he was very giving of his space years people. Cherish this history and Repaint Creatively elsewhere.

By the way, the Ancient Egyptians wrote hieroglyphs on their walls to tell their history. Modern day artistic graffitti may be just that today




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Time's Up

I understand that the joke is on me for even responding. But every once in a while I can’t help myself.

Are Sasha and all of the people who echo her comments really that dense? That’s rhetorical.

Sasha, do you actually think that the art on that building was done illegally? I like to think of my fellow NYCers (particularly neighbors in my beloved borough) as reasonably astute. But I keep reading this stupid shit over and over and now I’m unsure. I don’t know how one can both (1) be so frighteningly dumb that he/she does not understand that the artwork was sanctioned; and (2) be intelligent enough to log onto the internet and use a keyboard.

And almost as irritating is how these dumbasses keep putting the word ART in quotes, as if we’re silly to consider the art as, in fact, art. I don’t like classical music, so by this definition it’s classical “music.” And I don’t eat meat, so I suppose meat is “food.”

It’s fuckin art you dumb fucks. Now, you may not like it, but that doesn’t make it not art. And although irrelevant to its status as art, millions of people do find it beautiful.




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Native New Yorker

Get your facts straight. Know your history. That building has historical value. If we want to get into who was breaking the law, Jerry Wolkoff was and has been breaking the law by not maintaining the building properly for years. The building was not profitable to him and so he let it sit there even those that lived and worked in there told him about the problems, dangerous problems and still he sat there, letting the violations pile up.

He is a slumlord and now that there are too many people in this city, instead of those that really belong in the suburbs decide they want to live in the city instead, we all have to suffer for their banality. Whoever moves into those apartments are just as bad as him. He could have made a profit off of that building if he wanted to, he just didn’t want to get his hands dirty.

Stop making excuses for those that wouldn’t do the same for you. If you think Jerry Wolkoff gives a damn about anyone but himself then you really are a sucker.




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a-bidge

Problem solved. Well done Wolkoff. I agree with number1 and with Wolkoff’s statement “My building is a piece of crap with no architectural significance, he said, and the artwork kept changing”




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Observer

No one is going to forget, Mr. Wolkoff. You will go down in NYC cultural history as a base, greedy, sightless mole of a person, who had a bank vault for a soul.

The people who demolished Penn Station may be un-named in the public mind, but everyone who suffers as they pass through the current station rather than the cathedral to the public that was there, adds to the darkness of their desecration. You have just joined them in ignominy.

Hope the money is good company, but I doubt it. The best to you.




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Sasha

This should have been done a long time ago. And all the “artists” should have been arrested long ago, and put to work cleaning off their “art” and that of fellow “artists” throughout the city.




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number1isdumb

Wow. No one seems to understand cultural significance. You could have made 5 points into the most important cultural building in the entire city outside of a massive museum. But instead… it will be a building. With most likely, no connection to the community, or the history of the area.




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number1

I agree with you Wolkoff. I laugh at the “artists” who deface private property and then get mad when the owner of the building wants to do what they want to do with their property. They broke the law when they spraypainted their stupidity on your walls. Now they’re upset? Tell them to spray paint on their own walls or better yet I will. Please post your addresses below and I will come and spray some bulshit on your mommas house. Thanks.




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