Graffiti artists worldwide can rest easy. There are, after all, authority figures on board with the cause. A Brooklyn based judge by the name of Frederick Block has clearly been attuned to the four elements, and recently ruled that twenty-one Graffiti artists were to be awarded a $6.7 million dollar bag after their work at Queen’s 5Pointz Complex was destroyed. The perpetrator of said destruction was one Jerry Wolkoff, a real-estate developer slash owner of 5Pointz, who played the landshark and had dozens of murals whitewashed from existence. A lawyer spoke on behalf of the grieving artists, describing the complex as “the world’s largest open-air aerosol museum.”
While corporate figures have been playing the curmudgeon for decades, Wolkoff caught an L back in November, after a Civil Jury deemed his graffiti purge an unlawful violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act, which ensures protection of public art of a “recognized stature.” Yesterday, Judge Block decided to lay down the law, deciding to award the artists the maximum in damages after deeming forty-five of the murals to be worthy of protection.
It’s a classic worlds-collide scenario, another feud in the perpetual battle between corporate and creative; this time, it’s score one for the latter. Eric Baum, a lawyer for the artists, declared the significance of the win, calling it “a victory not only for the artists in this case, but for artists all around the country.” Perhaps Judge Block should expect a mural of his likeness to emerge in the not-to-distant future.