Prior to 2013, a warehouse in Queens known as 5Pointz was a graffiti mecca packed with murals and other work by hundreds of artists, many of whom rented space inside the building. That is, until owner Gerald Wolkoff suddenly and without warning whitewashed the entire facade under a messy coat of paint. Wolkoff had been planning to tear the building down for a while, and the artists were in the process of trying to stop him under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), which protects “works of recognized stature.”
The court had no time to make a decision before Wolkoff’s drastic action, and a showcase of graffiti art was instantly destroyed. Perhaps Wolkoff wasn’t expecting the judge to deem the graffiti of ‘sufficient stature’ to protect, much less grant a significant monetary value, but clearly he was wrong. In November 2017, a jury ruled in favor of the artists, and this …
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