Nine of the artists who displayed their aerosol work at the former Long Island City graffiti mecca on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court Friday, claiming that the property’s owner, Jerry Wolkoff, committed an illegal act by painting over their work without giving them enough warning to take it down and save it, the Daily News reported.
According to the publication, the artists are seeking significant monetary damages.
“This case is not only brought on behalf of plaintiffs, but it sends a message to everyone that the unlawful destruction of artwork will not be tolerated. If anyone violates federal law under the Visual Rights Act, they must be held accountable,” their attorney Eric Baum of Eisenberg & Baum told the Daily News.
In November 2013, Wolkoff ordered to have the building and all the aerosol work that covered it painted white overnight only a few days after artists and supporters held rallies looking to save the graffiti mecca and requesting the site be landmarked.
The same year, the 5Pointz artists attempted to sue to stop the developer from tearing down the buildings but lost an important ruling shortly before the whitewashing. But a judge also reportedly said that their works had “recognized stature” and some could qualify under the Visual Artists Rights Act.
Wolkoff and his company, G&M Realty, plan to build two apartment towers—one 47 stories and the other 41 stories tall—with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them on the former 5Pointz site. Last August, Wolkoff also released a rendering of a reserved space for graffiti that will be on the new building’s exterior near a rear courtyard, and will be open to the public.