In what many of us are considering as an encouraging yet pyrrhic victory over the destroyers of 5Pointz, the courts recently said that a trial can commence regarding the destruction (whitewashing) of the art on the walls prior to eventual building destruction.
This was something that Meres talked about before the whitewashing and now we see that, despite the slowness of the process, the law protecting street art is starting to work. We will have to see if justice is served. But this will be justice served very cold since the buildings are long gone and the glass atrocity being built on its grave has begun.
On Friday, a group of graffiti artists won a significant legal victory against the real estate developers who demolished the graffiti haven known as “5 Pointz” in 2014. In an unexpected turn, a Brooklyn judge ruled against the developers, who had made a final request to dismiss the case before trial.
The judge’s ruling breathes new life into the three-and-a-half-year-long lawsuit, originally stymied by earlier decisions which allowed the property owners to destroy the graffiti and redevelop the site. Today, luxury rentals now reside on the Queens lot where the warehouse once sat.
In their pending suit, the graffiti artists argue that the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA)—which grants visual artists limited rights over work they created but do not own—entitles them to monetary damages for the destruction of their art.
The developers, meanwhile, asserted that such rights are narrow and inapplicable given that, while the artists are well-known, the works are not. As such, they aren’t covered by VARA. But in his ruling Friday, judge Frederic Block sided with the artists, stating that the evidence provided by both sides was sufficient to merit putting their VARA claims in front of a jury.