G&M Realty, owner of the building located at 22-44 Jackson Avenue, received a special permit from the City Council last week to build more than 1,000 apartments in two buildings that will be 47 and 41 stories.
In an attempt to appease art lovers who oppose tearing down 5 Pointz, 12,000-square-feet of artist studios and gallery space has been included in the proposal.
Jonathan Cohen, a.k.a. Meres, who was behind the transformation of 5 Pointz into a graffiti museum will curate nearly 10,000 square feet of art panels and walls in the building.
However, some feel that is not enough, especially considering that the facility currently includes 200,000-square-feet of space with 200 studios.
In response, 16 plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against G&M Realty claiming that the owner is in violation of the Visual Artist Rights Act and copyright law.
“This particular law allows artist to protect work from destruction under certain circumstances,” said Jeannine Chanes, legal representation for the artists. “The law is clear and has been around for two decades.”
According to Chanes, when a building owner gives an artist consent to use the facility as a canvas, the art is the property of the artist.
Because G&M Realty gave explicit consent, according to Chanes the artists own the work and the building owner doesn't have the authority to tear down the warehouse or destroy the art.
This federal action is the first in the nation’s history where graffiti artists have sought legal action to protect their artwork. Some of the 16 plaintiffs are world-renowned graffiti artists such as Sandra Fabara, a.k.a. Lady Pink, Stephen Ebert, a.k.a. Bishop 203, and Cohen.
G&M Realty plans to demolish 5 Pointz by the end of the year and will complete one of the two towers by 2015. The plaintiffs are seeking a temporary restraining order halting demolition.
“We want to preserve the artwork not just for artist or the LIC community, but for the world,” Chanes said.