Art | October 11, 2020 6:30 am

Supreme Court Won’t Hear 5Pointz Developer Appeal

A long legal saga may have reached its conclusion

5Pointz Aerosol Art Center in its heyday.
Getty Images

The legal saga surrounding the now-demolished building known as 5Pointz may have finally reached its conclusion. In 2013, the murals that had made the building a local landmark were whitewashed in advance of a new development on the site; artists were not given the opportunity to preserve their art in in any way.

This led a group of artists to sue Gerald Wolkoff’s G&M Realty. (Wolkoff died earlier this year.) The artists won, but G&M Realty appealed. Earlier this year, a U.S. Appeals Court upheld the earlier verdict.

Now, the Supreme Court has weighed in on the matter, and it turns out that they agree with the lower courts. At Hyperallergic, Hakim Bishara reports that the Supreme Court upheld the earlier federal court hearing and declined to review this case.

As Hyperallergic notes, the earlier ruling allocates $6.7 million in damages to 21 artists who lost work in the whitewashing. The new buildings that rose on the site of 5Pointz are almost completed — though when they do open, it may well be on a city that looks very different from the one that existed when construction began.

The 2018 verdict remains notable for enacting protection for graffiti under the Visual Artists Rights Act. While that particular verdict may not have prevented the destruction of the art at 5Pointz, it will hopefully give developers pause before taking similar actions on other buildings. That the Supreme Court has let the earlier decision stand is encouraging news to artists and those who support the rights of artists alike.

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