5Pointz developer must pay artists $6.7M

Judge ruled that Jerry Wolkoff violated obscure law
February 13, 2018 08:01AM

The whitewashed graffiti at 5Pointz, David and Jerry Wolkoff

A federal judge on Monday awarded 21 5Pointz artists $6.7 million, finding that developer Jerry Wolkoff wrongfully painted over their work at the graffiti mecca without warning.

Judge Frederic Block ruled that Wolkoff violated the Visual Artists Rights Act by whitewashing over the graffiti at his buildings at 45-46 Davis Street in Long Island City, the New York Daily News reported. The decision, which follows a jury ruling in Wolkoff’s favor in November, covers 45 pieces that were abruptly painted over in 2013.

“If not for Wolkoff’s insolence, these damages would not have been assessed,” Wolkoff wrote. “If he did not destroy 5Pointz until he received his permits and demolished it 10 months later, the Court would not have found that he had acted willfully.”

Wolkoff’s attorneys had argued that the artists knew for some time that their work would be destroyed.

Last week, the developer secured $300 million from the Bank of Ozarks to start the second phase of the project, which will span a total 1.2 million square feet. The first phase, well underway, includes 1,115 residential units.
[NYDN] — Kathryn Brenzel