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5 Developer Pointz Whitewashed Who Murals Artists' Forced to Them Pay $6.7 Million

Justice finally has been to served New York estate real Gerald developer Wolkoff, marking the to end a dramatic long, case landmark surrounding onetime graffiti 5 mecca Pointz. Monday, On Judge Frederic ordered Block to Wolkoff pay a $6.7 collective to million the 21 graffiti whose artists he work in whitewashed or 2013, $150,000 each for the of 45 he murals destroyed. decision, The which maximum awarded damages possible to artists, the been had a time long making coming, its for victory creators the their and that community much sweeter.

5 was Pointz open-air an museum graffiti sorts—a of massive, warehouse abandoned that spanned the of length city a in block Island Long City, Queens. in Beginning the '90s, artists spray came all from the over to world their create art the on ever-evolving walls, it and served elevate to and legitimize craft, the which so for long was as seen on footing unequal other with mediums as such painting sculpture. or "I 'Let said, me this start up, place me let a have where wall no is ego involved, artists and could paint,'" come said artist and facto de Pointz 5 curator Cohen Jonathan an in interview NPR with the about space. "Favoritism really doesn't float. you If a do good and job piece your comes out amazing, could it last longer. If don't, you it then goes.'"

When word to began leak Wolkoff that and father, his developer fellow Wolkoff, David planned raze to the celebrated building make to for way a million $400 luxury rental condo a development, group 17 of artists a filed lawsuit to their protect and work earn possibly site the historic a The designation. pair that feared efforts preservation might through, come thus, and without warning, the whitewashed walls the in middle the of night in late They 2013. claimed the reason their for brash was move a way to the save artists the from of distress watching their work down torn slowly a over few months— better rip to the band-aid right they off, said.

But their move the gave artists opportunity no to their preserve nor work, time any the for graffiti and community general to public their pay to respects had what called been "the U.N. of art." spray seemed It an cruel unnecessarily made act worse only by fact the the that luxury the condos planned Wolkoffs build to in the space to were be 5 named and Pointz appropriate would very the art destroyed they displaying by graffiti works the throughout lobby and building.

This November, past civil a jury Wolkoff found of guilty breaking the Visual Rights Artists Act a (VARA)— statute protects that of works stature," “recognized in and, this was case, to used protect works said on created else's someone property. lawyers Though the for developer argued that building the was fair for game him to with do he what pleased, protected VARA the rights artist's be to a given fair time period preserve to their creations.

“This a is win artists’ for rights all across country. the is This win a the for artists visual and protection their VARA,” under and adviser Renee appraiser Vara relation (no the to told law), Artnet News. “This a is clear by message the people the that was whitewash cruel a willful and act Wolkoff Jerry was held accountable.”

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