Can the Visual Artists Rights Act Save 5Pointz?

Monday, October 21, 2013

A group of 5Pointz artists are suing to keep the building from being demolished. Jeannine Chanes is one of the attorneys for the artists, and she explains the arguments for why the Visual Artists Rights Act might apply artists' "moral rights" in this case.



Jeannine Chanes

Comments [18]


It is my understanding that the graffiti artist has the copyright. The building owner actually owns the art and can do as they wish with the art. The art was not commissioned by the owner therefore the "art" was placed on the the property illegally.

Oct. 25 2013 10:38 AM
Stan from ssomerset

Suggest everyone see the great Alec Guinness in the movie The Horses Mouth. I think that says it all.

Oct. 22 2013 11:28 AM
Howard Gutowitz from new york

It is common in new york for new buildings to be built inside of old facades. The developer should work with these walls to make a hip destination building with authentic street cred. People will pay top dollar to live there. There is a huge win win opportunity here, don't understand why they are not taking it.

Oct. 22 2013 10:51 AM
Vikingirishwoman from LIC, NY

Mr. Wolkoff held on to that property for years, putting nothing into it, letting it decay to a dangerous state so no one but poor artists would move in and use it. It was a dangerous dump. Because he was waiting for someone like Bloomberg to come in change all the rules and make his decaying mass turn into mint. Generosity has nothing to do with it. it was cold calculation, pure and simple. And now he not only wants to make a profit, which is fine, he wants the rules changed again so he can make an obscene profit.

Whatever else may be true, the guy is not a saint.

Oct. 22 2013 08:57 AM

I am perplexed, to say the least, about this lawsuit ? Looking at photos of "said art" I am reminded of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". This beholder fails to see art of value on those walls! The owner of said property being generous allowed the GRAFFITI "artists" a place to practice and display their so called 'art?', now he is being punished by an absurd lawsuit.

Let those with a passion for the 'art?' purchase the property at the market value; I'm certain there will be far more lawsuits if that takes place. Who will own the 'art?' Those who purchase the property ? The graffiti scribblers?

All those who were given permission to spray paint on those walls should step up and voice their nays to this lawsuit !
As Johan from Brooklyn noted "it's meant to be ephemeral"1

Oct. 22 2013 08:36 AM
art525 from Park Slope

I agree with what is pretty much a universal consensus here that graffitti was meant to be ephemeral and outlaw "art'. The term art when applied here is a little too generous. it is really pretty adolescent stuff, the kind of things you'd see in a high school art class. No I don't think a passably well rendered portrait of a moony eyed Biggy rates as art. No those cartoony adolescent doodles don't make the grade. And stylistically there is nothing here that advances the "art" from the days of Lee and Futura. They defined a style that was somewhat interesting (and of course transgressive) back in the 70s but the new graffitti "artists" have done nothing to advance the medium. Just the same ole same ole. And as so often mentioned here the landlord should not be punished and handcuffed in doing a new development because he was generous enough to have handed the walls of his building over to some graffitti "artists" for a few years.

Oct. 21 2013 12:23 PM

Even if they do not win in this particular case, I can see this making other property owners wary of allowing a piece to be painted on their walls, for fear that something like this might happen to them. This law suit is stupid and is only going to hurt the artists and the creative environment that has persisted throughout NYC. I love 5 pointz and I don't want to see it bulldozed. I miss that building already. But, it's time to let it go.

Oct. 21 2013 12:18 PM
Manhatta from new york city

So the man is generous enough to give permission for what is, by its nature, ephemeral art, and in return he is sued by the artists and gets to hire (and pay) lawyers. I guess he's legally lucky one of the artists didn't fall and cripple himself in pursuit of art. Herewith, building owners will hire guards and tell the artists to get lost or get arrested. What a foolish artistically self defeating law suit. Hire a really good large format photographer to document the site and move on.

Oct. 21 2013 12:08 PM

Preserving the art could be a win-win as it makes the building unique and makes whatever winds up inside seem special. I just hope the law suit doesn't result in no landlord ever permitting graffiti again for fear of losing control of his/her building and seems like a real possibility.

Oct. 21 2013 12:08 PM
Scott from Soho

So the building owner gave these 16 artists a great place to show their work for years and now they are returning the favor by screwing him over by hampering his ability to sell his property.

Oct. 21 2013 12:04 PM
shashinyc from Manhattan

As I understand it, the landlord, Mr. Wolkoff, was generous and arts-conscious enough to allow the 5 pointz graffiti artists a marvelous decades-long showcase -- but as I understand it, the permission was granted until the time came when the landlord developed the property.

So now the artists are turning around and biting the hand that gave them a free gallery all these years? Shame on them and their narcissistic self-interest. Shame on them for not accepting their chosen ephemeral art form. Whatever you think of rampant luxury development, a separate issue with which I, like so many New Yorkers, take issue, Wolkoff does have a right to his own property.

Oct. 21 2013 12:03 PM

Here we go again mememe
Someone lets you paint his building and now u own part of his building??
And the next guys says you can't paint my building. Sigh.

Oct. 21 2013 11:59 AM
Aaron from Manhattan

All of those artists at 5pointz put up those works KNOWING that they will be temporary. That's the nature of 5 Pointz.

Oct. 21 2013 11:58 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

And know the consequence of not allowing the building owner to do what he wishes with the building?

Nobody will give permission to do the same stuff in the future. Nobody will be that stupid, to abandon their rights for the sake of "art."

Oct. 21 2013 11:56 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Everyone agrees (that Banksy's work is art)??? Who made this guest the arbiter of aesthetics??? He may be a great media manipulator to a very willing media, but that doesn't mean he's "everyone's" idea of an artist.

That's the kind of self-involved statement that too many people engage in and too many people buy into without listening carefully and with discrimination.

The word "artist" has become one of the most abused in our contemporary language.

Oct. 21 2013 11:53 AM
FIshmael from NYC

Five Pointz - imagine:

1) an highly developed work of graffiti art
2) some basic tagging that's just a name

on the same wall

How is the determination made? What the threshold for "of stature"? are there precedents she can mention?

Oct. 21 2013 11:51 AM
Johan from Brooklyn

So what happens if the Landlord quietly 'hires' a graffiti Artist to paint over the existing works? Which happens all the time to street art. It's meant to be ephemeral

Oct. 21 2013 11:50 AM
marie cecile flageul from lic queens

5 pointz features aerosol arts mural, graffiti street art , done legally with authorisation.

Oct. 21 2013 11:50 AM

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