Judge Orders Property Owner Pay $6.7M To Graffiti Artists

The property owner was unrepentant for destroying the graffiti on his building, so the judge ordered him to pay.

Queens, NY - A judge has ordered a property owner to pay $6.7 million to graffiti artists who tagged his building because he showed no remorse for destroying their work when he tore down the building he owned.

Federal Judge Frederic Block made the decision on Monday that property owner Jerry Wolkoff should have been remorseful for destroying his own property, according to PIX11.

The site known as 5Pointz involved an abandoned warehouse building that graffiti artists had been painting on for years.

Billed as the “world’s largest collection of quality outdoor aerosol art,” the graffiti artists set up a system for determining what art was temporary, and what art remained permanent.

Wolkoff said that he had initially allowed the graffiti artists to paint on the abandoned building, but in 2013 he painted over the graffiti, and then he tore the building down a year later to make way for luxury condos.

The graffiti artists sued, citing the federal Visual Artists Rights Act, which grants artists rights to their work even when somebody else owns it.

The obscure federal law requires property owners to obtain written consent from artists before destroying their artwork.

Wolkoff could have avoided the written consent by waiting almost a year for a federal permit and allowing artists time to first remove their work.

However, the property owner was entirely without remorse for destroying his own property.

“Wolkoff has been singularly unrepentant. He was given multiple opportunities to admit the whitewashing was a mistake, show remorse, or suggest he would do things differently if he had another chance,” Judge Block said while awarding Wolkoff to pay $6.7 million, according to PIX11. “Wolkoff could care less. As he callously testified."

Comments (37)
No. 1-37
JBo
JBo

"...quality outdoor aerosol art" Ya gotta be kidding!

NTPD935Ret
NTPD935Ret

So let me see... if I spray paint the side of your house does that mean I now own your house? And if you remove the spray paint I will sue you in federal court and then really own your house! This country of ours is headed in a very wrong direction.

Randy-
Randy-

"Wolkoff said that he had initially allowed the graffiti artists " that's the reason why.

Randy-
Randy-

Hence the reasoning & judgement is Justified!.

Scattered
Scattered

It is NOT justified to decide to rear down your own fkn building when you want cuz some punks spray painted it. So freaking what. Did they have a damn contract? This is so ludicrous it's downright laughable. Insanity!!!!

Randy-
Randy-

@Scattered the judge ruled as per the law.

Marcburcham
Marcburcham

Are that crazy you would believe anything. COME ON MAN. It's HIS PROPERTY. yes allowed them to paint on it but He has a right to destroy his own building no matter what. The judge should be shot for even making that decision.

fyrmedman
fyrmedman

THIS is why America is going to hell. So, If I paint on your house, you have to get written permission from me to paint over it? How fugged up is THAT? Who passes these kinds of federal laws? and who really enforces them? Stupid azz NEW YORK!

Dfc3166
Dfc3166

Right here is what is wrong with this country and the path that got us here. How stupid is this ruling, what a whacko judge. You ever hear of common sense? It's something you haven't got!

nomercyou
nomercyou

He should now sue the artists for a percentage for allowing them to use his building and giving them a platform to exhibit their work. After all an art gallery would get a percentage for showing selling their works. Its a lawyer game for profit hence why the world needs less lawyers not more.

RunCop
RunCop

Judge Block...Slick willie appointee...enough said!

Texaschristina
Texaschristina

It's New York. Would you expect any less?

b1rd
b1rd

Not that it wasn't going to come down anyway. He just did it 10 months before he obtained his permits. So in effect he he denied people 10 months of viewing pleasure.

b1rd
b1rd

Technically they didn't need a contract.

PastLivesMatter
PastLivesMatter

What happened to vandalism?? It was not their property to paint!

b1rd
b1rd

Weird interpretation of the law.

Fogghorn57
Fogghorn57

Just my two cents worth, but the judge needs to be off the bench for that ruling. And the owner should have charged the vandals with trespassing on day one instead of giving them permission to paint their crap on the building to start with.

asillyrabbit551
asillyrabbit551

who signed that law??

magnumforc
magnumforc

Judge BlockHead no less.

kdsq
kdsq

I smell an appeal to this. how that crap is art is beyond my imagination to comprehend.

LEO0301
LEO0301

Yet another example of liberalism destroying the fabric of America. Welcome to Bizzaro World!

gfc1963
gfc1963

Grafitti IS NOT art!! It is vandalism. Did these 'taggers' have the owners permission to draw there? I doubt it very much.

ThatGuySomewhere
ThatGuySomewhere

Actually if you read the article it said that they did have permission to use his building.

ThatGuySomewhere
ThatGuySomewhere

Did you know that 60% of our commercial item labels from prior 2000 are made by old graffiti artists? Any "special" lettering you see on a label especially on soda, candy, food in general, and anything meant to catch your eye is a form of graffiti? Advertising uses graffiti all the time, but I guess that's also beyond your level of comprehension? Graffiti is an art form just like any other kind of art.

ThatGuySomewhere
ThatGuySomewhere

They had his permission to paint there? Doesn't anyone read the article before commenting?

Benmiser
Benmiser

Did you know 60 percent of commercial item label artist live with their parents.

Joyful noise
Joyful noise

In my opinion, he should be allowed to paint over or demolish the building, it is HIS property. This judge is wrong!! Appeal!!

Georgia
Georgia

Refuse to pay, there is a difference between art and graffiti and it doesn't become art just because you say, "yeah, you can paint on this building that I own because we're going to knock it down anyway" Urine does not become art because you put it in a jar with a cross rather than flush it.

CAV337
CAV337

This will be overturned on appeal.
Also, another Federal Law which needs to be repealed.

Jj21071
Jj21071

This is B.S. I don’t care if he gave them permission or not. If he owns the property he can do whatever he wants. The “artist “ wasn’t paying him rent or anything. He was being nice to let them do what they wanted for a while. If the guy wants to tear down his own building then he ask jo shmo if he can do it. If this stands then he ought to charge them back rent of 6.7 mill.

sbfan2000
sbfan2000

Rofl. This judge will be easily overturned.....even in the cesspool know as ny.

Salazarj2k5
Salazarj2k5

Allowing someone to paint in a building vs giving them permission are not necessary the same.

You can own the building and see graffiti on and simply choose not to do anything about it, either cause you don’t care, the cost to stop it may not be worth it, or you figure they are going to paint it regardless of what measures you take. That can be considered allowed.

Reaching to the owner and asking if it’s okay to paint the property and getting consent to, is permission.

So article said he allowed it, not that he consent to it. Big difference, for that individual that keeps stating people need to read the article. Maybe he should read it and realize there is a difference. Just saying!

fultzy
fultzy

So if I tag your body and declare it to be art, can I sue you if you take a shower?

gnostica
gnostica

judges have become a nuisance and power hungry out of control

Resa
Resa

American justice has gone CRAZY Sue for writing Crap On a Building that was not theirs NOR were they ASKED TO DO IT!!!STUPIDLY

meyerlansky6
meyerlansky6

SO that means it's OK to paint illegal graffiti all over someone else's property? Then when it gets erased, I can sue them for my 'artwork"? Absolutely disgusting that this idiot judge would award money to people who vandalized this man's building. I thought graffiti was illegal.