The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition by the late Jerry Wolkoff’s development firm to revisit a ruling over the whitewashing of graffiti artists’ work at the iconic 5Pointz warehouse.
The court’s decision to not rehear the case means developer G&M Realty — which painted over the street art at its warehouse in 2013 to pave the way for a new project — will pay $6.7 million to the affected artists, Law & Crime reported. A U.S. District Court judge had upheld the decision in February, after an appeal was brought by Wolkoff, a prolific developer who died in July.
The developer had planned a massive 1.3 million-square-foot mixed-use development on the Long Island City, Queens site, where street artists had enlivened an abandoned warehouse for years with their art. The developer had the art painted over two months before demolition permits were issued for the site.
In 2018, when a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge awarded $150,000, the maximum penalty, for each of the 45 murals that were defaced, it was a key test for the Visual Artists’ Rights Act, a 1990 federal copyright rule which grants artists “moral rights” for their work. Modifications of work under the Act require 90-days’ notice be given, which the court found G&M violated.
More recently, G&M Realty, which is managed by Gerald Wolkoff’s sons, David and Adam, is developing a 9,000-unit planned community in Brentwood, at the site of a former state hospital. The developer has yet to break ground on the $4 billion, 3 million-square-foot project.
[Law and Crime] — Georgia Kromrei