A federal judge has decided against issuing a permanent injunction that would stop the demolition of 5Pointz in Long Island City.
The way is clear for the building’s owners, Jerry and David Wolkoff, to begin preparing to tear down the graffiti mecca to make way for luxury high-rise residential towers. “That’s our understanding of it,” said 5Pointz spokeswoman Marie Cecile Flageul, “We’re disappointed, but we’re already working on our next move.”
Brooklyn Judge Frederic Block ruled against the artists’ motion for a preliminary injunction against G&M Realty, which would have postponed the demolition. The judge also dissolved the temporary restraining order, which allowed the Wolkoffs to resume planning for razing of the site at 22-44 Jackson Ave.
Wolkoff’s attorneys immediately withdrew permission for the artists to paint, so there will be no more painting at 5Pointz. Jonathan Cohen, known as Meres One, and his band of street artists have until the end of November to leave the premises.
But they will not go quietly. A rally is planned at 5Pointz for 3 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s been tough on us,” said Marie Cecile Flageul, spokeswoman for 5Pointz. “We put in all the work and put our lives on hold during this battle, so we really took the decision hard.”
Their attorney, Jeannine Chanes, said the original lawsuit is not over. The artists have been seeking protection of their work under the 1990 Visual Arts Rights Act.
“Judge Block’s decision only affects the injunction. There is still a lawsuit and there will still be a trial,” Chanes said.
“If the art is destroyed, the law allows for damages,” Chanes explained. “If destroyed intentionally, it could mean $150,000 per piece.”
It has been estimated that more than 350 murals cover the walls of the old warehouse.
Jerry Wolkoff was not available for comment, but he has said he wants demolition to begin before the end of the year.
“That may not be so easy. There are still tenants in that building,” Chanes said. “There’s a clothing factory on the second floor and there are two halal businesses that operate out of there as well.”
While the artists are resigned to the fact that 5Pointz will be coming down at some point, they do not blame Block for his decision.
“It didn’t go our way and that’s part of the rule of law,” said Flageul.
There was an incident while the temporary restraining order was in place, however. While the artists were ordered not to paint, the owners were ordered not to touch the artwork.
“We presented photo evidence that two gates containing artwork were removed and the judge didn’t even give them a slap on the wrist,” Flageul. said. “If one of us started to paint, they would’ve thrown us in jail.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2013 Community News Group
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