Federal Judge Puts $6.75 Million on New York Art Tragedy

Considering the mecca city that New York is, the Big Apple naturally attracts the prospects of artists and creative minds from all across the globe. The city has never been one for conventional thinkers, but rather the place to voice originality. Graffiti and street art has come a long way in society, and has even earned itself a place within legal rights as seen in The Visual Artists Rights Act.
Unfortunately, the law does not always ensure that art will survive. The tragedy of 5 Pointz mural space, located in Long Island City, Queens, is one that the art community in New York will continue to mourn. Federal Judge Frederic Block only just announced on Monday that the artists would be receiving $6.75 million for the damages.
Author Samantha Schmidt wrote about the events leading up to the verdict in an article published by the Washington Post titled “N.Y. landlord obliterated dozens of graffiti murals. Now he owes the artists $6.75 million.”
The story of the ruined masterpieces begins with Gerald Wolkoff, the owner of the former warehouse buildings. The site was repurposed as a gallery space over the course of a number of years, when local artists began their myriad of graffiti artwork on the exterior of the buildings. Wolkoff was renting out units as studios to artists back before 2013, when a resident named Jonathan Cohen volunteered to take charge of the gallery. He was responsible for managing the appropriate organization of the work on display. Artists and tourists eventually flocked from all over to see the massive homage to aerosol artwork. However, the beloved sight’s future took a turn down a more tragic path when Wolkoff decided that he wanted to tear down the site and rebuild residential high rises.
Of course the artists were in uproar, and Cohen fought long and hard to save the murals. Wolkoff took rash action and had a team whitewash over a majority of the work. The job was hastily done and parts of the art could be seen through the white. Though, no matter the poor completion of the whitewash, it was enough to devastate the litigant artists involved in the case.
After receiving the jury’s suggestion from the case, Judge Block decided to honor a total of 45 pieces, granting the $6.75 million to the artists who had no time to say farewell to their beautiful labor.

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Phil Lankers

About the Author: Phil Lankers

From an early age, Phil knew he wanted to work in media Growing up in southern California., the television in the Lankers household was always on and tuned to CNN morning, noon and night. But Phil still managed to find time to spend the summers on golf courses and the winter on the ski hills. Aaron graduated from the University of Victoria with a major in political science and a minor in history. Contact Phil here

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