Artists from New York's "graffiti mecca" 5 Pointz lost a battle with a real estate developer who plans to knock down the building and build high-rise apartments.
5 Pointz in Long Island City, New York, has for two decades been a canvas for graffiti artists from around the world. Founded as Phun Phactory in 1993, it was designed as a place for street artists to legally practice their craft.
Residents of Long Island City woke up Nov. 19 to find that much of the artwork at 5 Pointz had been painted over with white paint. The 5 Pointz Twitter account alleges that the whitewashing happened without a permit but with the blessing of the NYPD.
"This is why I did it: it was torture for them and for me. They couldn't paint anymore and they loved to paint. Let me just get it over with and as I knock it down they're not watching their piece of art going down. The milk spilled. It's over. They don't have to cry." Jerry Wolkoff, building owner
Brooklyn federal judge Frederic Block said Nov. 8 that 5 Pointz "unfortunately, is going to have to come down," in spite of pleas from artists and a move by celebrity graffiti artist Banksy to spare the derelict building from demolition.
In 2011 the building's owner, Jerry Wolkoff, submitted plans to redevelop the site and build two high-rise apartment buildings, which NY City Council approved in October. Graffiti artists sued to keep the building in place.
The artists sued under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, which grants an artist the right "to prevent any destruction of a work of recognized stature." The artists' lawyer said the works at 5 Pointz meet all the criteria for protection and that the developer would need a signed waiver from every artist to tamper with the walls.
"The sad part is it's another example of gentrifying the city and building up these high-rises and getting rid of the few things in New York that are available, that are free, that are for the people, by the people." Jonathan Cohen aka Meres One, curator of 5 Pointz
"And that's it. Thanks for your patience. It's been fun. Save 5pointz. Bye." Banksy
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