Friday, February 21, 2020

5 Pointz hits the jackpot, judge rules against Wolkoff

5Pointz in January 2013. Photo courtesy of Ezmosis via Wikimedia Commons.

In a sweeping 32-page decision eviscerating the legal arguments of a disgruntled Queens real estate developer, a US Appeals Court affirmed the rights and monetary damages awarded to a group of graffiti artists whose works were destroyed without warning or consent in 2013.

The artists sued the developer, Gerald Wolkoff, in 2013 for violating their rights after he whitewashed their work at the famous 5Pointz graffiti art mecca in New York to make way for condos. A jury ruled in favor of the artists in November 2017, but it was up to a judge to determine the extent of the damages.

In February 2018, Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Frederick Block awarded the artists a total $6.75 million in a landmark decision. The sum included $150,000—the maximum legal penalty—for each of the 45 destroyed works at the center of the case.

The trial was a key test of the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), which grants visual artists certain “moral rights” for their work. Previous VARA cases rarely made it to trial, and were instead settled privately.

But the act, which was added to copyright laws in 1990, disallows the modification of works in ways that could be considered harmful to artists’ reputations, and grants protections to artworks deemed to be of “recognized stature.”

In his appeal, Wolkoff challenged practically every aspect of the decision by Judge Block, from the amount of the award, to the suggestion that the graffiti murals at 5Pointz merited protection under the “recognized stature” clause.

But Wolkoff was rebuffed on all points in the latest ruling, and the court took the additionally extraordinary step of citing his own lawyers against him. “Wolkoff’s own expert acknowledged that temporary artwork can achieve recognized stature,” according to the decision.

The ruling also took Wolkoff to task for making misrepresentations about how his business would have been harmed if he did not move to immediately whitewash the works. In his arguments, Wolkoff claimed that certain tax credits available to him would have expired if he did not move quickly to paint over the works.

Yet he did not even have a demolition permit for the building when he began his campaign to cover up the murals.

Congratulations 5 Pointz, you all earned every penny from this disingenuous arrogant jerk.


Anonymous said...

I miss 5Pointz. It was always a sight to see when you passed it by on the 7 Train.

Anonymous said...

Good, now owners will think twice before allowing this ghetto vandalism garbage to be painted on walls.
That shit was not art, the judge was stoned or crazy.
Im told most these vandals and felons running around painting trains & walls with these new giant 32oz tall boy spray cans don't even live in New York or have jobs.
New York City is not East Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

So the answer is
1) don’t allow squatters
2) paint over the works immediately
3)if your building is not reusable within a reasonable amount of time, rip it down

Anonymous said...

"you all earned every penny"

spoken like a true commie

Anonymous said...

What a rat-hole, NYC is. Glad I live west of the Hudson!

Anonymous said...

This is refreshing. A devoloper finally being held accountable in this city.

Angry Queens Taxpayer said...

"Glad I live west of the Hudson"

And I bet the food sucks and you must walk or drive over 1 mile to get a friggan newspaper, donut or do anything. Big fun during winter, 2 choices being stay home and rot or freeze your ass off warming up an ice cold car.
I walk 60 steps to everything I need and only use the car when I really need to.

Living in the country is a death sentence, it has the highest drug addicts, alcoholics and depressives per capita to prove it. Go out to Southold in Suffolk County, holy shit what a town of pregnant teenagers, drunks, druggies and useless assholes.
If you have a heart attack, your dead by the time you get help and to a cardiac unit level hospital that can handle it. Walmart or some mall cant help you.
That's how my Grandmother in shit Ulster Heights Ellenville died, I hated that place. Wile visiting we had 2 days eating bacon & pancakes, frozen bagels & butter, looking at trees and deer at dusk. It make one go nuts. It was absolutely horrible, must be worse then being in prison.
Good place to go die sitting in a chair I suppose.

The grass is no greener, the tradeoff is not worth it.

Anonymous said...

The guy gives graffiti artists a place to display their work and gets kicked in the ass from them.What did the artists expect when they put something on someone else's property.The building owner has the right to do what they want. This is crazy.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Angry Queens Taxpayer said...
"The grass is no greener, the tradeoff is not worth it."
We get it you don't like country life but many others do. So what's better ?
You should stay in NYC if that's what you like but I'm out of here soon with my NYC Pension and full benifits. Please keep working and pay all the high taxes and fees to keep my pension funded thanks Taxpayer ! Yippee Ki Yay ...

Anonymous said...

All but pair of posters are true ignorant typical Queens asshole Archie Bunkers. If you could the text of the decisions. THE artists weren’t permitted the 90 days REQUIRED BY LAW to recover or document their art. The owner Vandalized whitewashed....their art at 3:00 AM like a true thug. BRAVO! A slumlord got kicked in the balls!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’ช

Anonymous said...

I guess the ignorant Queens asshole Archie Bunkers still believe in private property rights. The decisions were rendered by judges who are probably still suckling their adult artist children.

Anonymous said...

That building was an eyesore. as is the one thats gone up in its place. they call it "art" i call it vandalism.

TommyR said...

True lesson - be wary of the agreements you make, and act in good faith.

Anonymous said...

Terrible decision, this is his private property! That federal law is constitutional. I hope he takes this to the Supreme Court on either first or fifth amendment grounds

Anonymous said...

"90 days required by law to recover and document tbeir work..."

How do you suppose they do that, genius? Since all of these jackasses take pictures of their "art" which is a form of "documentstion" , how are they supposed to "recover" it from Wolkoff's wall? It's Wolkoff's wall and that's that. This decision is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

The one landlord who didn't deserve it got punished. He could have let his buildings fester in the 70s and 80s, instead he turned them into art. Now that he wants to make money off of it, he's being punished for his good deed.
Still, damn stupid of him to whitewash it overnight instead of giving the artists some heads up.

Anonymous said...

Done deal! Get over it. Get a life out of blogville. Without social media you clowns are dead! How EMPLOYABLE ARE YOU BTW?
15 seconds of “fame” in the Ethernet! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚