Brooklyn federal jurors ruled in the favor of 21 graffiti artists after a day of deliberations in the despite between land developers and the artists responsible for painting the historic Queens art Mecca known as 5 Pointz. The American mural space at 45-46 David Street in Long Island City was founded in 1993, and was a huge staple in the hip hop and art scene. It was recently closed down and whitewashed as developers have plans to build luxury rental space in the area.
The collective of artists sued real estate developer Jerry Wolkoff under the Visual Artists Rights Act — a law passed in 1990 that protects artwork of “recognized stature.” The 49 pieces of graffiti that covered the location were legally protected when Wolkoff painted over them during the night without warning nearly 4 years ago. According to the counsel for the artists, each of the 21 were awarded damages.
In an interview with HipHopDX, Baum said “The jury sided strongly with the rights of the artists. This is a clear message from the people that the whitewash of the building by its owner Gerald Wolkoff was a cruel and willful act.”
This is the first trial that cites the Visuals Artists Rights Act, however, the jury’s decision was an advisory ruling, the final call is still a judge’s to make.