(all photographs by Tiernan Morgan and used with permission)

In the early morning hours, much of the embattled 5Pointz complex on Long Island City was whitewashed — apparently at the behest of landlords Jerry and David Wolkoff. Though an injunction against the graffiti and street art complex failed in federal court in Brooklyn last week, 5Pointz tenants allege that the legal challenge was ongoing. A rally against the demolition drew hundreds to the site on Saturday, which the Wolkoffs plan to redevelop with residential towers.

Dreddy Kruger, a resident MC at 5Pointz, told Hyperallergic this morning that “the judge hasn’t even disclosed the final paperwork on the federal injunction case … Nothing should have been done yet. We’re still legal tenants [in] the building.” Speaking on the scene, Kruger further stated that he believes the building was buffed between 1 and 6:30am in a seemingly ad hoc effort. When much of the 5Pointz crew arrived this morning, they encountered mild police presence summoned, they allege, by the landlord.

At 9:45am this morning, 5Pointz curator Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen made the following scathing comments to Hyperallergic:

What [Jerry Wolkoff] did last night is yet another display of how he seems to do what he wants, there were no city permits to paint this building … Obviously it was done yet again without permission. I want to say Jerry, I hope you’re very happy dude, cuz long after you’re gone, which is not long, but your son and his son will live with your legacy. You won’t be remembered for any one individual thing you built in terms of architecturally, you will be remembered as the biggest art murderer of our time.”

According to the Save 5Pointz Facebook group, there will be a candlelight vigil tonight at the site, just after sunset. “Tonight 5 pointz again becomes the ‘institute of higher burnin,’” the post says.


With additional reporting by Tiernan Morgan.

UPDATE, 12:03pm EST: WNYC reporter Stephen Nessen has spoken to one of the building owners, who says that graffiti will be welcome at the new development:

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 12.04.04 PM

— Hrag Vartanian

UPDATE 2, 12:53pm EST: The New York Times has published a story on the 5Pointz buff and they include some choice quotes and some funny passages:

The plan to convert the three-acre site into a $400 million development project that will include two glass towers and 1,000 new luxury apartments had provoked opposition from artists and their supporters. But after months of public debate, court hearings and political maneuvering, opponents had little left in their arsenal.

In a last-ditch effort to stop the development, they were hoping to have the building designated as a landmark. That option is now likely gone as well.

“I don’t know how you can erase 12 years of spectacular art,” said Hans Von Rittern, a guide who arrived with a busload of tourists, only to find the building’s art gone. “It’s cruel.”

— Hrag Vartanian

Editor’s Note: We have published a photo essay from the day after at 5Pointz, “5Pointz: The Morning After.”

Mostafa Heddaya is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic.

32 replies on “5Pointz Whitewashed Overnight [UPDATE 2]”

  1. Sorry, but there’s something beautifully ironic about graffiti artists complaining about their walls being painted without a city permit.

    1. “Sorry, but there’s something beautifully ironic about graffiti artists
      complaining about their walls being painted without a city permit.”

      Not really – as that would assume all graffiti is illegal. If you have permission, it wouldn’t fall under that realm, and it seems that was the case here.

      1. psshhh — If irony is a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result, this is irony. Graffiti by nature, illegal or not, is a transient art-form. Being covered up and destroyed is a part of the game. For them to complain about that IS ironic, considering many of them have likely painted over others works and tags themselves.

        1. I hate to argue semantics, but seriously… straight out of a dictionary: i·ro·ny1
          noun: irony
          the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
          ““Don’t go overboard with the gratitude,” he rejoined with heavy irony”
          synonyms:sarcasm, causticity, cynicism, mockery, satire, sardonicism More

          a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.
          plural noun: ironies
          “the irony is that I thought he could help me”
          synonyms:paradox, incongruity, incongruousness More

          a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.
          adjective: dramatic

          Christ, I should have just said “sweet paradox” instead of getting the Alanis Morisette critics to crawl out of their holes. I find it “ironic” that these people are complaining about graffiti being covered over when that is inherent to the form — graffiti artists paint on walls whether or not it’s legal, and the quote has a man bitching about it being done without a permit. That is what is ironic. But maybe it isn’t, if you have no sense of humor.

  2. Tearing down the building is one thing, but specifically painting over the art just displays an unimaginable level of disrespect and idiocy.

  3. ahhhh…what a bummer! though let’s not cry over spilled milk. we should just start over and paint over whatever piece of glass condo garbage they put in it’s place.

  4. So graffiti is wonderful — unless it’s done with white paint across a broad surface, and then it becomes an outrage?

    1. uh, I could be wrong, but buffing is not the same as graffiti. buffing is usually officially sanctioned on some level, with the intent being to paint over graffiti (which is unsanctioned, usually)

  5. Honestly its not to be missed most of the graffiti done on the walls there are old, no one in my generation really thinks its art its more like oh thats nice but graffiti is more of a late 20s+ sort of thing its not really cool anymore to graffiti just saying its more of the emo kids and losers

    1. Oh really? what about the likes of lee quinones? He was born in 1960 so that would make him 53 correct? and he was one of the legends behind subway graffiti and is still cranking out some amazing pieces…..of his age….Idk if I would call him a loser or emo kid, how about banksy? or L7M? think before you speak sir/ma’am

  6. Graffiti is meant to be painted over, it is fleeting. On the plus side, clean whitewalls ready for new artists.

  7. what I always loved about graffiti was its impermanence. this buff job, while certainly sad, should only inspire us to “keep it real” and keep on keepin’ on. there are plenty of galleries enlisting works by graff artists these days, so they can preserve the works. the streets change. graff shouldn’t be just localized in one special place, it should pop-up everywhere, where you least expect it.

  8. It appears to me that the Walkoffs have been abundantly supportive up ’till now and have even reached out a concilliatory hand, offering wall space POST DEVELOPMENT. The building is theirs and it strikes me as madness to demand it be handed over to the people who were allowed to paint on it for so long.

    Perhaps there are factors I’m just not getting? Perhaps there are factors no one is examining?

    Story notes: Question legal status of building and limits and extensions of tenant rights. Read injunction papers and look into what is entailed in obtaining landmark status. Examine legal status of the artwork. Attendant to that, outline the social and aesthetic implications — is this guerrilla art or not? Should we protect illegal art; if so, under what circumstances. If it is legal art, then who did it belong to? Were the landlords aware of all the implications of allowing it to be made on their property?


    1. You make several valid pointz (pun intended), but I think the real gross outrage is the insult (the “buff”/”whitewash”) prior to the injury (of the wrecking ball). Why waste the paint, other resources? Why not let people bask in, and enjoy, the glory that was 5 Pointz for another month or whatever? I think that’s what you aren’t “getting” as far as why everyone is *so* outraged at this.

      1. I was upset about the white wash too and asked around a bit. I agree with those who think it was done to stop attempts to make the building a landmark.

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