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

Pair battle over partition painted by famed artist

From left: Steve Cannon and 285 East Third Street
From left: Steve Cannon and 285 East Third Street

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.

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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