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Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Old 11-11-17, 12:10 AM
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Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

In New York City, the owner of a building gave graffiti artists permission to put graffiti on his building, with the understanding that the owner would eventually tear the building down.

However, after the owner did tear the building down, the artists filed a lawsuit, and a jury actually agreed with the artists.

A judge will be ruling on this in the future. But as it stands right now, the concept of private property has just been eroded by a huge amount.

And this is a federal ruling, so it applies to the entire country.


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/n...fiti-jury.html

Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

November 7, 2017

Ending a trial that explored the question of whether graffiti, despite its transient nature, should be recognized as art, a jury found on Tuesday that a New York City real estate developer broke the law when he tore down the so-called 5Pointz complex in Queens three years ago. Along with the buildings nearly 50 swirling, colorful murals that had been spray-painted on its walls were lost.

The finding by the jury, in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, will serve as a recommendation to the judge who presided over the case and who will render a final verdict.

For the better part of 20 years, 5Pointz, a complex of buildings in Long Island City, was a New York rarity: an aesthetic collaboration between the developer, Jerry Wolkoff, and a scrappy crew of graffiti artists that not only became an offbeat tourist destination, but also helped transform the neighborhood into a thriving residential enclave. Though it eventually became what a lawyer for the artists called the “world’s largest open-air aerosol museum,” its existence was always predicated on Mr. Wolkoff tearing it down and turning the buildings into luxury apartments, which he ultimately did in 2014.

When the artists learned about the demolition, they filed suit against Mr. Wolkoff in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, accusing him of violating the Visual Artists Rights Act, which has been used to protect public art of “recognized stature” created on someone else’s property. During the trial, the artists’ lawyer, Eric Baum, claimed that Mr. Wolkoff had failed to give his clients the proper 90-day notice before he destroyed their work by sending in a team of workers one night to cover it in a coat of white paint.

Mr. Wolkoff’s lawyer, David Ebert, had argued at the trial that V.A.R.A. was irrelevant in the case because it was intended to protect art, not his client’s building. Mr. Ebert also maintained that the 21 artists who had joined the suit had known for years that 5Pointz would eventually come down and contended that they had destroyed more graffiti themselves by constantly changing their paintings than Mr. Wolkoff had in demolishing the structures. In the last decade or so, Mr. Ebert said, about 11,000 murals had come and gone on the walls of the complex.

Even though the jury rendered its decision after hearing three weeks of testimony, near the end of the trial both Mr. Baum and Mr. Ebert agreed that Judge Frederic Block, who presided over the case, should take its verdict only as a recommendation. Judge Block has asked both sides to submit court papers in the coming weeks about the validity of the verdict, at which point he will issue a final decision and, if warranted, force Mr. Wolkoff to pay the artists damages.

Despite this legal quirk, Mr. Baum claimed victory on Tuesday night. “The jury sided strongly with the rights of the artists,” he said. “This is a clear message from the people that the whitewashing of the buildings by its owner was a clear and willful act.”

Mr. Ebert declined to comment on the case.
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Old 11-11-17, 01:14 AM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

That’s ... odd.

So if the artists would have received 90 days notice they would have done ... what?
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Old 11-11-17, 11:00 AM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
That’s ... odd.

So if the artists would have received 90 days notice they would have done ... what?
I was just going to ask the same thing. So this guy is supposed to just sit with this empty property forever because there's "art" spray painted on it?

This was a stupid ruling.
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Old 11-11-17, 02:15 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

The Wikipedia article makes it look like he jumped through all the hoops that NYC has for destroying a building.
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Old 11-11-17, 02:50 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
The Wikipedia article makes it look like he jumped through all the hoops that NYC has for destroying a building.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Pointz
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Old 11-11-17, 03:13 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

It's not over from the article, though. Judge Frederic Block has yet to interpret the case as a recommendation or something more concrete. We'll know in the next few weeks.

In any case, a hint to building owners for situations like this: Never give a 3rd party access to your property. Bad idea. Always a liability. Even with a contract.
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Old 11-11-17, 03:28 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

I swear that this was covered by one of the news-comedy guys (or maybe they interviewed a writer?). But I can't seem to find it anywhere.

The idea is that the written notices and time given is supposed to allow the artist to document their work (with photography and whatnot). It's a pro cultural/historical/arts-preservation rule.
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Old 11-11-17, 04:05 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei View Post
It's not over from the article, though. Judge Frederic Block has yet to interpret the case as a recommendation or something more concrete. We'll know in the next few weeks.

In any case, a hint to building owners for situations like this: Never give a 3rd party access to your property. Bad idea. Always a liability. Even with a contract.
Does your 3rd party exclusion extend to contractors, mail-carriers, police, fire & rescue, or guests?

Them shits can get up to no good.
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Old 11-11-17, 06:45 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by Troy Stiffler View Post
The idea is that the written notices and time given is supposed to allow the artist to document their work (with photography and whatnot). It's a pro cultural/historical/arts-preservation rule.
Yes, I believe that was the intent and I agree with it. This building was awesome and until recently, one of the very few reasons to go into that neighborhood. This could have been handled properly by the developer, but he choose to try and shortcut things. I hope he is penalized appropriately.
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Old 11-11-17, 07:08 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Is this the same 5 points depicted in Gangs of New York?
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Old 11-11-17, 07:54 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Five Points was where Manhattan is now. According to Google Maps, 5Pointz is on the Long Island side.

(Hope I got that right for you New Yorkers.)
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Old 11-11-17, 08:17 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by JasonX View Post
Yes, I believe that was the intent and I agree with it. This building was awesome and until recently, one of the very few reasons to go into that neighborhood. This could have been handled properly by the developer, but he choose to try and shortcut things. I hope he is penalized appropriately.

Yes, because this is "art".

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Old 11-11-17, 08:23 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Are you saying it's not? Looks awesome to me.
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Old 11-11-17, 08:51 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei View Post
In any case, a hint to building owners for situations like this: Never give a 3rd party access to your property. Bad idea. Always a liability. Even with a contract.
Especially when she moves into your dad’s trailer.

Originally Posted by Troy Stiffler View Post
The idea is that the written notices and time given is supposed to allow the artist to document their work (with photography and whatnot). It's a pro cultural/historical/arts-preservation rule.
Admittedly I haven’t read the article beyond the posted part ... are they trying to prevent the demolition altogether, delay the demolition, or receive financial compensation?

As far as pictures — and I am not an artist so forgive my ignorance — wouldn’t you do that when the work is complete, not just at some random time somewhere in the future? Particularly when the graffiti/artwork on the building was constantly being painted over, altered, and replaced by the artists themselves?
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Old 11-11-17, 08:54 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

It is art, but it begs the question of what is the difference between art and vandalism? When does the work cross that line? In this case the owner gave them permission, and maybe that is the difference. Otherwise I could go deface a public building and claim “it is art” as my criminal defense.
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Old 11-11-17, 08:57 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by Max Bottomtime View Post
Yes, because this is "art".

Yes, I am saying that. It was one of the few buildings in the area to not be a generic factory, many of which were delapetated. I get that not everyone likes this kind of thing, which is fine. I'd much rather there be more of these types of places out there rather than the cookie cutter structures that are quickly replacing them.
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Old 11-11-17, 09:02 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
It is art, but it begs the question of what is the difference between art and vandalism? When does the work cross that line? In this case the owner gave them permission, and maybe that is the difference. Otherwise I could go deface a public building and claim “it is art” as my criminal defense.
Vandalism can be art. One of my favorite examples:



As to when something becomes art, that is impossible to give an answer to as it will be entirely in the eye of the beholder. If you deface a building in an artistic way, it can be both art and vandalism.
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Old 11-11-17, 11:08 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Michaelangelo's lost masterpiece:

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Old 11-12-17, 12:31 AM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by Max Bottomtime View Post

Yes, because this is "art".

Hot damn, that looks awesome
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Old 11-12-17, 02:54 AM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
Is this the same 5 points depicted in Gangs of New York?
Originally Posted by Troy Stiffler View Post
Five Points was where Manhattan is now. According to Google Maps, 5Pointz is on the Long Island side.

(Hope I got that right for you New Yorkers.)
The old Five Points section of Manhattan, from GANGS OF NEW YORK, is now occupied by Columbus Park in Chinatown and various courthouses. There's a spot at the southern end of the park where you can see where the five points converge.

5Pointz, the building with the graffiti, is several miles north and across the river in Queens, another borough of New York.

I've been to both sites. I walked through the 5Pointz complex once and it was pretty amazing. There was graffiti inside all the buildings as well, much more than you can see in the photo. And artists were on ladders and platforms at work all the while. It was like a graffiti theme park.
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Old 11-12-17, 09:02 AM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by Troy Stiffler View Post
The idea is that the written notices and time given is supposed to allow the artist to document their work (with photography and whatnot). It's a pro cultural/historical/arts-preservation rule.
Umm, they new from day one it was coming down. How much more notice do they need to document their work? They apparently had "the better part of 20 years" to document away.

This ruling is absurd. I get the intent, but the developer made it known the buildings were coming down from day one.
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Old 11-12-17, 09:54 AM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

This is another battle in a current fight over who "owns" art, the artist or the purchaser. Who owns the murals on the building, the creators or the property owner?

Theoretically, if I buy a painting by a devout Christian of Jesus, hang it in a public place, and alter the painting to mock Jesus, does the artist have a say in what I did?

Or in a real-world example, if an artist makes a world-renowned sculpture of a charging bull, is it right for the company which displays the sculpture to completely change its character by having a little girl be stronger than the bull?
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Old 11-12-17, 10:23 AM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
Admittedly I haven’t read the article beyond the posted part ... are they trying to prevent the demolition altogether, delay the demolition, or receive financial compensation?
Often times, these sort of lawsuits are about awareness and holding people accountable. If the rule is to give a 90-day notice, then developers are more likely to be aware of the rule and proceed accordingly in the future.

I'm kind of surprised they didn't attempt to save the building.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kqXeCbOwPVc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
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Old 11-12-17, 01:10 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

This isn’t really about art, it’s just anti development.
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Old 11-12-17, 01:32 PM
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Re: Brooklyn Jury Finds 5Pointz Developer Illegally Destroyed Graffiti

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
This isn’t really about art, it’s just anti development.
This isn’t really about art, it’s about $$$. Maybe.
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