The Real Deal New York

East Village art gallery landlord, ex-owner at war over a wall

Pair battle over partition painted by famed artist
April 18, 2014 03:15PM

The landlord of an East Village art gallery and its former owner are reportedly fighting each other for ownership of a painted wall within the structure.

The Gathering of the Tribes gallery has occupied the three-story building at 285 East Third Street since its founder, Steve Cannon, purchased the property in 1970.

Cannon sold it off in 2004 to recoup some debt and agreed to lease the second-floor from new owner Lorraine Zhang, the New York Times reported. Now the gallery is at the end of a lengthy eviction process that begin in 2012, stemming from a disagreement about the terms of the lease, as previously reported.

In the process of vacating the space, Cannon has removed and replaced a wall painted by David Hammonds, a celebrated artist whose other works hang in the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum. Zhang still claims ownership, according to the article.

“Once it’s painted on the wall of the building it becomes the building’s,” her lawyer Steven Gee told the Times. It’s unclear who will ultimately win the battle for the wall.

The argument is reminiscent of the bickering over the removal of a Picasso in Aby Rosen’s landmarked Seagram Building, as previously reported[NYT]Angela Hunt

  • Charming Days we live in

    As the former landlord, how would Mr. Cannon feel if he was treated the way he has treated the new owner? I remember this building because he used to attack her building’s value.

    The wall needs to be there because of the C of O but because the red and gold paint is there because of his personal relationship with the artist, then he can take the wall (but he may not actually want it since he considered painting over it) and the landlord needs to rebuild that wall right away because I think the tenant insists on shaming the landlord previously implying that she is greedy and now that she is not an artistic because he feels bad about HIMSELF and needs to take it out on her nd there is no point in making him feel worse especially since he is leaving.

    He may not treasure that wall but he is basically asking for face and a wall can be replaced.

    Too bad he is making an attorney speak on behalf of the owner but that is the situation these days when tenants are encouraged to sue and cast aspersions on SPONYs’ characters. But giving face to a departing tenant – it never feels bad if it is not strategically costly in which case, face goes out the window.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to live in the good old days when a tenant cleaned out their apartment and asked for a payout instead of this emotion between total strangers? Now we have sadism.

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