NY Landlord, Sued For Destroying Graffiti, Awaits Judge’s Ruling

By on December 22, 2017

December 22, 2017

A case that began in 2013 with a lawsuit filed by 17 graffiti artists is still winding its way through federal court in New York, with the plaintiffs hoping to get unspecified damages and a declaration that the defendant landlord violated a relatively obscure copyright law known as the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990. For years the landlord had encouraged graffiti artists to use his warehouse building complex in Queens as their palette, putting one particular artist in charge of organizing the contributors. The site, visible from the # 7 train, became a tourist attraction and a showcase for what has become a recognized art form. But the area was rapidly gentrifying, and in 2013 after deciding to replace the warehouses with residential towers, the landlord whitewashed the walls and a few months later had the buildings torn down. The landlord remains a fan of graffiti art, and the artists, and says that he wants to provide them with other venues, but he maintains they knew the situation he offered them was temporary. “Every artist that sued me whitewashed the one before them. For 20 years, they each whitewashed over each other,” he said. “When I whitewashed, they sued me.”

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The Los Angeles Times

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