5Pointz - named in the claim as the "Mecca of the Aerosol Art World" - has been used by graffiti artists for the past 20 years to display their works. Artists were not only allowed to paint on the buildings, but there was an unofficial aerosol art program at 5Pointz whereby one of the plaintiffs was appointed by one of the the defendants to curate and manage the program.
In 2010, however, the owners of the site started at looking at the sale and redevelopment of the buildings after the NYC Buildings Department issued an order to close the largest of the buildings, as well as citing a number of violations including unsafe conditions. Then, earlier this year, the owners announced plans to demolish 5Pointz to make way for a luxury residential apartment development.
In an attempt to save the complex and their works, the artists have filed claims under the US Visual Artists Rights Act ("VARA") and copyright law. They argue that their pieces, paintings and murals on or at 5Pointz are each “works of visual art” within the meaning of VARA, and constitute copyrightable subject matter. Accordingly, the plaintiffs' honour and reputation as artists (ie. moral rights) will be damaged if the defendants destroy 5Pointz, thereby destroying the artists' works without their consent.
On 17 October 2013, the artists won the first round in the battle with Federal Court Judge Frederic Block granting a temporary restraining order prohibiting any demolition activities by the defendants in relation to the building, as well as prohibiting all painting on the building by the plaintiffs, for 10 days. This order expired on 28 October. The next round has now also gone to the artists who succeeded, this week, in getting the judge to extend the TRO for a further 14 days.
The next hearing of the case is scheduled for 6 November.
|"Drunken Bulbs" by Jonathan Cohen - one of the many works at 5 Pointz cited in the claim|
Read the full claim here.