1250 Broadway, 27th Floor New York, NY 10001


In an interesting twist, an appellate panel recently ruled that a landlord violated the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, “which prevents destruction of an artist’s work if it has achieved recognize stature, along with certain other protections for an artist’s work,” reads Real Estate Weekly.

Landlord Jerry Wolkoff is slated to pay $6.7 million in damages to a graffiti artist for whitewashing the art. (Wolkoff hired artist Jonathan Cohen to liven up a Long Island City warehouse back in 2002.)

The installation was an instant hit, receiving plenty of media attention and foot traffic. Some eleven years later, in 2013, Wolkoff secured approval to turn the property into luxury housing and, in the owner’s view, the art had to go. Cohen attempted to fight the destruction of his creation by attempting to buy the site. But after that effort faltered, Cohen and several other artists sued Wolkoff.

“Imagine seeing your work piece by piece coming down,” said Wolkoff. “Let it end. For me it was the humane thing. I figured get it over with. Maybe I was wrong. I have nothing against the artists. Even the ones that sued me. A lawyer says you can make money. Can you blame them?“

To make matters worse, Wolkoff’s plan was to create a new building from the ground up – yet he still decided to paint over the art; an act which troubled the judge.

The lawyer representing the artists considers the court ruling “a monumental win.”

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To read the full story in Real Estate Weekly, click here: https://rew-online.com/landlord-ordered-to-pay-graffiti-artists-7m-for-destroying-work/