View Full Version : Jury Slams Developer for Whitewashing Graffiti Artists’ Works

11-09-2017, 07:54 PM
A federal jury in New York on Tuesday awarded thousands of dollars in damages to graffiti artists whose work was whitewashed under order of a real estate developer who owned the building they painted on.

The jury only deliberated for about a day, despite having to reach separate verdicts for each of the 49 artworks at issue in the case. Senior U.S. District Judge Frederic Block presided.

During an unprecedented three-week trial, 21 graffiti artists testified, as did defendant Jerry Wolkoff – the building’s owner – art experts and an art buyer.

The case drew national attention due to the renown of the graffiti’s demolished home in Long Island City. Once a tourist attraction and “graffiti mecca,” 5Pointz is now a pair of high-rise luxury apartment buildings.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Eric Baum of Eisenberg & Baum accused Wolkoff of destroying art that was protected under the obscure Visual Artists Rights Act by whitewashing it without warning overnight.

“We know that ignorance of a law is no excuse for violating it,” Baum said in his closing argument Monday. He called the whitewashing “the worst intentional destruction or mutilation of art in U.S. history.”