Their Paintings Whitewashed, NY Graffiti Artists Sued The Landlord In Federal Court

By on April 13, 2017

April 13, 2017

A group of 23 graffiti artists, who sued in 2013 after a landlord whitewashed their work, scored a courtroom victory on March 31 when a judge ruled their case can go before a federal jury. With the landlord’s permission, the plaintiff-artists had covered a building in Queens, and the site had become known internationally and become something of a tourist attraction. After running into opposition from the artists over his plans to demolish the buildings in anticipation of planned high-rise development, the landlord had the art covered over at night, without notice to the artists. The landlord maintains he is an admirer of graffiti art and plans on enlisting artists (although not the ones that sued him,) to cover his future development. According to the landlord, the artists knew the work was going to be temporary and that the buildings were going to be torn town, and that repeated painting over a given space, called “bombing,” is normal in the graffiti art world. The attorney for the artists maintains their work falls under the protection of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, and the jury will be made aware “that this was not graffiti, not vandalism, but rather work done with the permission of the owner, by artists of recognized stature, and protected by law.”

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New York Times

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