A New York judge has awarded $6.7 million to graffiti artists who sued after their work was destroyed on 5Pointz buildings torn down to make room for luxury condos in Long Island City.
Federal Judge Frederic Block in Brooklyn noted Monday there was no remorse from the owner of the warehouse buildings.
"Wolkoff could care less, as he callously testified," the judge said. "The sloppy, half-hearted nature of the whitewashing left the works easily visible under thin layers of cheap, white paint, reminding the plaintiffs on a daily basis what had happened. The mutilated works were visible by millions of people on the passing 7 train."
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The judge said he would not have assessed so much in damages if the owner had awaited his permits and demolished the art 10 months later than he did.
The ruling followed a three-week trial in November.
Twenty-one aerosol artists had sued the owner of a Long Island City, Queens, site known as 5Pointz. Their graffiti was painted over in 2013, and the buildings were torn down a year later.
For 20 years, developer Jerry Wolkoff had allowed urban artists to cover the buildings with their tags and murals. As the popularity of the site, located at 45-46 Davis Street, grew, so did its reputation.
Local organizers held residencies for renowned artists from all over the world. Soon thereafter, the place became known as “the world’s largest open-air aerosol museum,” according to Eric Baum, one of the artists’ lawyers.
Artists tried to stop the demolition of the “Art Mecca” when Wolkoff informed them about the development projects, as the neighborhood’s real state value grew. They pleaded with the city to grant landmark status to save community-beloved 5Pointz, but woke up to a whitewashed building.