The Real Deal New York

Hakimian volunteers to get “tagged” at 184 Lexington

By Katherine Clarke | December 01, 2013 07:00AM
The mural at 184 Lexington Avenue

The mural at 184 Lexington Avenue

For most city landlords, graffiti is a scourge. But one high-profile building owner has volunteered to have one of its properties “tagged.”

The Hakimian Organization, the Midtown-based landlord and developer, last month unveiled a large rooftop graffiti mural designed by two prolific Brooklyn-based street artists — Sheryo and the Yok —at 184 Lexington Avenue, a rental building. The mural covers a roughly 20-foot wall abutting the rental’s rooftop garden, and features giant beaked spray-painted creatures.

The firm’s Shawn Hakimian said the company first noticed art by Sheryo and the Yok — whose work donned Long Island City’s 5Pointz building until that building was controversially white-washed last month — while on a site visit to a property in Bushwick.

“Their work has a completely unique quality,” he said. “Ironically, we ended up spending more time looking at their artwork than the site we went there to see. When it came time to choose an artist for this rooftop wall, they were an obvious choice.”

Hakimian said the company had the idea for the mural long before the street artist Banksy went on a New York City tagging spree this fall. That graffiti art, tagged on buildings from Tribeca to Red Hook, could be worth as much as $500,000 apiece, said art appraiser Stephan Keszler, whose Upper East side gallery sells Banksy pieces.

“To us, street art is something that was born and bred in New York City and is now a legitimate movement,” Hakimian said.

He declined to say how much the company paid the artists to create the piece, but said he expected the cachet of the graffiti art to drive up rents in the building.