Decrying Real Estate Developer’s ‘Insolence,’ Judge Awards Street Artists $6.7 Million in Landmark 5Pointz Case
The ruling is a decisive victory for street artists.
Eileen Kinsella, February 12, 2018 (Artnet)
In a dramatic conclusion to a landmark case, a judge has ruled that a New York developer must pay $6.7 million to a group of graffiti artists to compensate for painting over their work without warning in 2013. The decision represents a decisive victory for street artists in a case that pitted their rights against those of a real estate executive.
The artists sued the developer, Gerald Wolkoff, for violating their rights after he whitewashed their work at the famous 5Pointz art mecca in Long Island City to make way for condos. A jury ruled in favor of the artists in November, but it remained up to a judge to determine the extent of the damages.
In a 100-page decision handed down today, Judge Frederic Block awarded $150,000 for each of the 45 works for a total award of $6.75 million.
“5Pointz was its temple, though it can never be replaced, this judgement is a monumental step for our culture and our art form,” Jonathan Cohen (also known as Meres One), the former director of 5Pointz, said in an email to artnet News. “Judge Block’s decision will change the art form perception for generations to come.”
Judge Block had harsh words for Wolkoff and the 2013 whitewashing episode in particular. He wrote: “If not for Wolkoff’s insolence, these damages would not have been assessed. If he did not destroy 5Pointz until he received his permits and demolished it 10 months later, the Court would not have found that he had acted willfully.”