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The real estate company that whitewashed graffiti works at 5Points in Queens, New York, will still have to pay millions in damages to the affected artists, the United States Supreme Court decided on Monday, October 5. The decision marks the end of a 7-year legal battle between developer Jerry Wolkoff’s G&M Realty and the street artists.
In November of 2013, Wolkoff whitewashed 45 graffiti artworks at 5Pointz in the middle of the night without notifying the artists. Wolkoff, who died in July of this year, fought to overturn the ruling against him until the last days of his life after losing an appeal in court in February.
The 2018 ruling set a precedent for the protection of graffiti as an art form that falls under the “recognized stature” provision of the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA). The court ordered Wolkoff to pay $150,000 for each destroyed work, the maximum award of statutory damages allowed under VARA.
But 5Pointz, together with the blanket of graffiti that adorned it, has been a thing of the past since 2014; Wolkoff has since replaced the former warehouse with two high rises that are now in final stages of construction. The two residential towers — one 41 and the other 47 stories — will offer 1,115 residential units. Of these, 223 (20%) are expected to be designated for affordable housing.
The former panels, removed in 2017, featured images dedicated to Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.
One researcher, Jürgen Schick, estimated that over half of the region’s historical artworks have been stolen.
The Morgan Library & Museum Presents Another Tradition: Drawings by Black Artists from the American South
This exhibition celebrates the Morgan’s recent acquisition of drawings by Thornton Dial, Nellie Mae Rowe, Henry Speller, Luster Willis, and Purvis Young.
The visual arts institution and educational center is located in the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.
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Part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the Art Preserve also functions as a curated collection facility and is filled with immersive installations.