A New York judge has awarded 21 artists who belonged to the iconic graffiti group, 5 Pointz, a whopping $6.7 million after a developer decided to whitewash their murals in Long Island City, Queens.
On Monday, Judge Frederic Block said there was no remorse from the owner of the warehouse building who decided to tear down the artist’s revered work to make room for luxury apartments.
“The sloppy, half-hearted nature of the whitewashing left the works easily visible under thin layers of cheap, white paint,” Judge Block said.
Twenty-one artists sued the owner of a Long Island City, Queens, location known as 5Pointz. Their works had been painted over in 2013, with the buildings being demolished a year later. The ruling was soon followed by a three-week trial in November.
The destruction of 5 Pointz was met with backlash from both New Yorkers and culture enthusiasts. This move was part of the city’s ongoing effort to strip away the cultural identity of New York neighborhoods and gentrify them with luxury condos.
The judge claims that he would not have assessed so much in damages if the owner had waited for his permits and tore down the murals 10 months later than he did. 5 Pointz was stripped of 45 art pieces which prompted the artists to sue under the Visual Artists Rights Act, a 1990 law that protects artwork of “recognized stature”.
The 5Points site had been an internationally-recognized graffiti mecca of sorts ever since the 1990s. Previous arrangements had allowed graffiti artists to legally paint on the building, even allowed artists to live and work inside it.
One of the more renowned voices who opposed 5Pointz’s destruction was Banksy, the elusive British street artist. He pleaded with New York City lawmakers to save the site in 2013 after displaying art all over the city which was part of a campaign called “Better Out Than In”.
Image Source: Flickr
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