February 13, 2018

"Ruling that graffiti... was of sufficient stature to be protected by the law, a federal judge in Brooklyn awarded a judgment of $6.7 million on Monday to 21 graffiti artists..."

"... whose works were destroyed in 2013 at the 5Pointz complex in Long Island City, Queens. In November, a landmark trial came to a close in Federal District Court in Brooklyn when a civil jury decided that Jerry Wolkoff, a real estate developer who owned 5Pointz, broke the law when he whitewashed dozens of swirling murals at the complex, obliterating what a lawyer for the artists had called 'the world’s largest open-air aerosol museum.' Though Mr. Wolkoff’s lawyers had argued that the buildings were his to treat as he pleased, the jury found he violated the Visual Artists Rights Act, or V.A.R.A., which has been used to protect public art of 'recognized stature' created on someone’s else property."

The NYT reports.

Previously blogged on December 3, 2013 and April 10, 2017:
How can the artists can win this? Relying on Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, they claim entitlement to notice in writing 90 days before the destruction of the art, which, they say, would have given them the opportunity to remove or photograph the work. The artists are not arguing that the owner can't tear down his building.
Here's the text of the statute, which limits the act to "a work of recognized stature." That — along with the $6.7 million amount — was the important finding here: The graffiti at 5Pointz was "a work of recognized stature."

135 comments:

Bay Area Guy said...

"Recognized stature" or "leftwing bullshit"? Inquiring minds want to know.

Maybe NYC will pay past reparations for all those subway graffiti artists in the 70s.

Boston Bunker said...

This is madness.

Big Mike said...

Can we have the judge's house covered in graffiti? And when he repaints his house can we have him sued for a few million dollars?

And more importantly, would he learn from the experience?

DKWalser said...

How was the owner to know in advance that this particular graffiti had sufficient stature to be protected by law? One of the tenants of the rule of law is that your obligations under the law are knowable in advance, not decided after the fact. Besides, I suspect that this particular mural was constantly changing and evolving as each artist painted over others' prior work. Weren't they, also, committing the same tort?

MadisonMan said...

I wonder who was on that jury!

I would not have ruled for the artists. But New Yorkers know so much more than Midwesterners, I guess.

Unknown said...

I'm old enough to remember when spray painting on someone else's property was called vandalism.

-sw

David Begley said...

So in NY vandals can trespass and deface someone else’s private property and then get paid if the owner removes the vandalism?

That’s lawless.

Ganderson said...

We are doomed.

Char Char Binks said...

Now ARM can get him some a dem reparations. HALLELUJAH!

Balfegor said...

RE: Boston Bunker:

This is madness.

Judge seems to have done his job -- the law is what it is. The madness is on the part of the legislature that voted in this vandals' rights act. But you get the world you deserve, really, and this is what we are, I suppose. This is all we are.

Jupiter said...

A civil jury in Brooklynn.

Victor Erimita said...

The “artists” don’t pay property taxes on the building. They didn’t buy the building. But somehow they have what amount to property rights to the building. Another case of judges eroding the rule of law and the principle of private property rights. Someone should cover this judge’s house in graffiti. Or maybe put portraits of Donald Trump on the Hew York Times building. I’m sure judges would rush to protect that.

Curious George said...

I just flushed some recognized stature.

Gahrie said...

The law is an ass.

Earnest Prole said...

The “artists” don’t pay property taxes on the building. They didn’t buy the building. But somehow they have what amount to property rights to the building.

Kind of like an easement.

Ann Althouse said...

The owner knew the graffiti was valued. It had "recognized stature," didn't it? Doesn't matter if you don't like the trespassing or you don't like that kind of art. The federal statue identifies the protected art by the recognition it had received. The owner had a duty to notify the artists and did not. The law's the law. He could have called on the law to arrest them for vandalism and they couldn't have argued the law doesn't apply to them unless the law actually made an exception for them.

Do you think some constitutional right was violated?

Gahrie said...

For the sake of argument, let us presume that such a law is not a travesty, and the artists did have some "right" to display their "art" on another person's property....

How the Hell did they come up with a figure of 6.7 million dollars?!?

mockturtle said...

Absolutely, fucking insane.

Gahrie said...

Do you think some constitutional right was violated?

I think the decision is a cruel and unusual punishment.

Birkel said...

Where is a good Takings Clause precedent when you need one?

BDNYC said...

I don't know the law here, but if the result is correct, the law is wrong and should be changed. If the building owner allowed the graffiti artists to use his building, fine. How does that give the artists a right to the canvas? The building owner did not give the building to the artists; the owner merely chose not to enforce its rights against trespassing and vandalism. How does that confer additional rights on the artists? This isn't adverse possession.

If the law made any sense, then the artists would have effectively donated their art to building owner. The owner could do with the art whatever it wanted, including destroy the art. What if the owner was an aspiring artist and painted over the graffiti with his or her own graffiti?

Unknown said...

I'm going to have to rethink my choice of medium for my next blockbuster artistic expression.

-sw

Michael K said...

It's OK. It's New York. They voted for Warren Wilhelm Jr.

No problem.

Birkel said...

Althouse endorses the following ideas?

1) Jesus divinely stealing pigs by casting demons into them is theft.
2) The state stealing a building because trespassers painted on it is perfectly fine.

Does Althouse believe the state more divine than Jesus?
Who can say?

Peter said...

Urban ghetto graffiti may be offensive on many counts, but it certainly has a recognized stature. I wonder whether some gangbangers could successfully sue to stop a neighborhood clean-up effort.

Sigivald said...

Time to amend VARA to require the work not be created or sited without the property owner's consent.

This won't affect actual artists.

(Graffiters might sometimes be actual artists ... but equally, they can take a damn photo right after they make their mural without permission, which is all VARA gives them a right to anyway.

The damage award is ludicrous in its entirety.)

CWJ said...

I haven't clicked through so maybe it was addressed, but given the changing composition and at least partial anonymity of the artists, what constitutes notice. Would legal notices in the NYT, or Brooklyn equivalent suffice? A sign on the door?

sparrow said...

Insane ruling constitutes a theft by the artists. If they put a recognized artwork on your house without permission that effectively a lien on your property. Appeal all the way. Property rights are constitutional (and older than that) This ruling is nuts

SeanF said...

Property owners have not typically removed graffiti immediately, nor prosecuted the vandals, because it was not cost-effective to do so. That calculus has changed. The potential costs of leaving the graffiti alone has increased substantially, which means the owners will be far more likely to prosecute and immediately remove.

These "artists" may have shot themselves in the foot, here.

Tim in Vermont said...

Democracy is an auction of other people’s stuff.

Birkel said...

In which Congress ignores the Fourth Amendment...

Char Char Binks said...

It's a way for darkies to steal money without robbery or other violent acts.

David Begley said...

There is no such thing as a “graffiti artist.” All graffiti is vandalism.

If they were real artists they would use their own property as a canvass and presumably get paid for their work.

Word perversion.

Tim in Vermont said...

This also goes under the heading of “No good deed goes unpunished.”

n.n said...

Dreamers.

And people who steal and redistribute intellectual property are actually uncommissioned marketing agents.

Here, and in other areas, there is a certain progression that is both logical and predictable.

n.n said...

Word perversion.

Semantic games are a means to an end that are heavily favored by the Pro-Choice Church, selective, opportunistic, and congruent.

langford peel said...

"Does Althouse believe the state more divine than Jesus?
Who can say?"

There is another alternative.

Althouse is an idiot.

Gahrie said...

Why doe the "artists" have property rights to the 'art" when it was produced illegally and on someone else's property.

Why doesn't the property owner own the 'art'?

Gahrie said...

Trump should immediately pardon the property owner.

Char Char Binks said...

"Why doesn't the property owner own the 'art'?"

It should be like when an apple falls from my neighbor's tree onto my property. It becomes my apple.

I believe this is a case of the court violating the owner's property rights. It violates the Due Process Clause,and it can't hold up on appeal.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

If he was smart, after whitewashing over it, he should have signed his name in the corner.

He wasn't removing the art, he was adding to it.

Hagar said...

Why doesn't the property owner own the 'art'?
Because of the statute passed by Congress and signed by some President. (AA says "federal statue [sic].)

So it would be like a prescriptive easement. The property owner should have posted signs that he only exercised temporary toleration of the "art," but reserved all his property rights, and for these amounts, probably also have filed a public legal document to that effect.

Triangle Man said...

I bet this law came about because some whore of a real estate developer needlessly destroyed some Art Deco bas relief or something.

Hagar said...

... misguided President.

Birkel said...

Hagar starts to contemplate the Takings Clause.
Was this homeowner secure in his persons, houses, papers, and effects?

Or can the legislature do anything it prefers so long as no search transpires?

Darkisland said...

One of the mistakes that many people make about socialism is thinking it is all about ownership of the means of production, or really, all property. This is one of the outs that I hear when people claim that German National Socialism and Italian Fascism were not socialist.

Ownership is really just a piece of paper. What counts is who controls the property. IG Farben may have held title to the company and been lawful owners but:

"German socialism had to overcome this "private," that is, unrestrained and irresponsible view of property. All property is common property. The owner is bound by the people and the Reich to the responsible management of his goods. His legal
position is only justified when he satisfies this responsibility to the community.


Pursuant to this view of the nature of ownership, property may be confiscated whenever the state decides that public management would be in the interests of the community, or if the owner is found guilty of irresponsible management, in which case no compensation is paid him.


Huber, "Verfassungsrecht des grossdeutschen Reiches" Hamburg 1939

(Bolding added)

So the guy/company may "own" the building but that means nothing with judges like this. Ownership must be subjugated to the good of the state.

Strange we don't see the antefa (ante-fascism) crowd marching against this.

I use strange in the ironic sense here.

John Henry

gilbar said...

from my reading, it wasn't graffiti that was protected; it was This Particular graffiti.
And the law said he Could have torn it down; but should have posted a notice giving 30 days notice b4 hand.

If I let people trespass onto the N. Platte river at my place at Lusby for a length of time without stopping them; I will have lost my rights to stop them in the future (this happened in Wyoming, 2015)

I'm assuming this was the same; the owner let people trespass and paint for a length of time, then took away that right. Luckily for him he only had to give 30 days notice.
The Real Question IS: did Anyone inform him of their famousness b4 he started work?

Ray said...

Bad link
https://www.blogger.com/visual%20artists%20rights%20act%201990

Link to the Act:
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/106A

Yancey Ward said...

The owner had a duty to notify the artists and did not.

I can't read the NYTimes article, but did the owner know who the artists were prior to the whitewashing, or did they suddenly appear afterwards?

Hagar said...

Well, that is why John Marshall invented judicial review (which we, except for those whose ox was gored at any one time, have thought a most excellent idea, so it has stuck), but someone has to protest and take the matter to court and soon enough that the court does not defer to "longstanding tradition," or whatever.

Yancey Ward said...

And what proof was offered that these are the artists?

Yancey Ward said...

However, laws and judgments like this is part of the path to shitholery.

Yancey Ward said...

And tell me exactly the process for becoming graffiti of recognized stature? What is the definition?

bagoh20 said...

The art is a product of an illegal activity. And I thought I can't keep the money from my heroin sales. Then if someone steals that money, the state will force them to pay me millions more than I lost.

I bet the spray paint used was stolen or bought with money acquired illegally, but none of that matters becuase "the law is the law". Well, some laws are the law, but some are just laws you ignore, becuase they might not get you the outcome you want.

"Do you think some constitutional right was violated?"

Jury of your peers. How many property owners were on that jury?

rehajm said...

Susan Is A Pinhead.

I would like to sue whoever took that down. I loved unique elongated font and the way it seemed to float in front of the cement wall. A more compelling work of graffiti I have yet to see.

Darkisland said...

In Terry Southern's hilarious book The Magic Christian a very wealthy man buys a famous painting at auction. I think it may have been a Van Gogh or the like.

As soon as he has paid and taken delivery, he pulls out a knife and cuts the nose out of the picture. "It is a perfect nose," he said "and all I wanted. You can keep the rest." (quote very approximate)

So would this be illegal under federal law?

The movie, starring Ringo Star and Peter Sellers IIRC is available on YouTube. It has not aged well but still worth a look if you have nothing better to do.

Or, in the spirit of the "Magic Christian" just watch the clip of Raquel Welch as slavemistress on a slave galley with Ringo as one of the rowers. A perfect slavemistress and you can keep the rest.

John Henry

Ray said...

If the developer had given the 90 days notice, the fine would not have happened.

The developer had actually given permission for the murals, and had been renting the place out to artists.

Instead, the developer after the NY City gave their approval whitewashed the front before the 90 days.

The Developer should sue whatever lawyer was giving him advice on this. Especially since there were already lawsuits going on.

Dumb.

Ray said...

More information on the background:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Pointz

Hagar said...

Legislatures and executives can, and will, do anything they please as long as no one objects.

AJ Lynch said...

In Philly in the 1960's there was a graffiti artists who called himself Cornbread. It was rumored he was shot and killed with a zip gun in a gang war but that turned out to be Fake News. He proved he was still alive it by changing his tagline to "Cornbread Lives" and today I believe he is part of the city's Mural Arts Program [that is what libs call govt sanctioned wall art today].

AJ Lynch said...

Btw, Cornbread has a wiki page that is about the same size as the Althouse wiki page. What a great country!

bagoh20 said...

Can't the property owner claim his painting of the wall was graffiti too, and very radical. He should get a share of the settlement. "Polar Bear in a Snow Bank"- 2017

Hagar said...

Actually, ... a sufficient number of the people object.

Robert said...

Sounds to me that it was a jury composed of Guy Grand, a grand guy (the magic Christian).

SeanF said...

Darkisland: In Terry Southern's hilarious book The Magic Christian a very wealthy man buys a famous painting at auction. I think it may have been a Van Gogh or the like.

As soon as he has paid and taken delivery, he pulls out a knife and cuts the nose out of the picture. "It is a perfect nose," he said "and all I wanted. You can keep the rest." (quote very approximate)

So would this be illegal under federal law?


Not in this case, because Van Gogh is dead, and the law explicitly states that the rights terminate with the death of the author.

Francisco D said...

"Where is a good Takings Clause precedent when you need one?"

Exactly.

I wonder if there was a process by which the graffiti was officially designated as protected.

An Appeals Court will overturn the decision. The judge should be relegated to Traffic Court.

Big Mike said...

Seems clear that Balfegor and Althouse are right as regards the law. Nevertheless I like my solution in my comment at 10:58. And while we’re at it, paint graffiti on the homes of the sponsors of the legislation.

Hagar said...

Pay attention. According to AA, there is a federal statute.

SeanF said...

It's worth noting, however, that the federal statute does not actually define "recognized stature", leaving that up to the courts. Also, the jury in this case decided that 36 pieces of graffiti qualified for protection, and the judge took it upon himself to add 9 more.

There's a federal statute, yes, but there's plenty of blame for the jury and judge here, too.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Remember when ownership meant something?

When Diego Rivera added a mass-murderer to a mural commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller (Lenin wan't in the agreed-upon sketch), Nelson told him to get bent (after paying him in full).

It's in the movie "Frida." Diego: "It's my painting!" Nelson: "On my wall."

JohnAnnArbor said...

The judge should be relegated to Traffic Court.

There's an idea. Each year, take the judge with the most judgements overturned on appeal and kick them down a level, like European soccer teams.

Richard said...

The reason the judgment was so high is that statutory damages range from a $500 minimum to a $20,000 maximum, increasing to $100,000 for willful infringements and decreasing to $200 for innocent infringements. The judge ruled that it was willful infringement and ordered the maximum damage.

MikeD said...

More evidence we'll never have nice things again!

JohnAnnArbor said...

It's also incentive to destroy anything that appears FAST lest it be judged "significant."

CWJ said...

SeanF notes that upon which I was going to comment just now. What standards were applied to determine which works qualified under VARA, when one set of laymen came up with 36, while another party (the judge) declares there were 45? Would a reasonable man be able to make the determination sufficient to judge whether his situation was or was not subject to VARA?

Unknown said...

So exactly how was this landlord supposed to give notice to a bunch of criminal graffiti artists? When did he get notice of the "significant stature" or whatever?

This is clearly a taking by the government.

--Vance

BJM said...

This is how you get more Trump.

Hagar said...

Diego: "It's my painting!" Nelson: "On my wall." [and in my town.]

Earnest Prole said...

Where is a good Takings Clause precedent when you need one?

Except that the "taking" in this case was a 90-day delay in construction to comply with a regulation. If you want a 9–0 Supreme Court Takings Clause anti-precedent, send them this case.

LakeLevel said...

The artist responsible for "Sketchy Dog" urinating on "Fearless Girl" should have sued when his sculpture was taken down.

bagoh20 said...

The most likely ramification of this will be property owners refusing to allow graffiti artist to paint as they once did, and to immediately remove it when it happens via trespass.

Net result = less theft, but also less of this art. Property owners win while artists lose in the long run. Some ideologies just can't stop shooting themselves in the foot. These artists, with their new wealth, will pull up the ladder behind them and have a nice steak dinner.

Amadeus 48 said...

These are the crazy years, and the craziness runs deep.

mockturtle said...

Darkisland writes: In Terry Southern's hilarious book The Magic Christian a very wealthy man buys a famous painting at auction. I think it may have been a Van Gogh or the like.

As soon as he has paid and taken delivery, he pulls out a knife and cuts the nose out of the picture. "It is a perfect nose," he said "and all I wanted. You can keep the rest." (quote very approximate)


I think it was a Rembrandt but yes, hilarious book and movie. I especially liked the 'clean kill' episode regarding game bird shooting with military arms and the Oxford/Cambridge rowing match where sportsmanship is tossed aside.

CWJ said...

"...and have a nice steak dinner."

Maybe even a milkshake.

bagoh20 said...

Why does it take 90 days to photograph a wall? 90 days could be a significant cost to the owner in some situations, and for what purpose?

"Significant Stature" should be more difficult to establish when the art is product of a crime or trespass. This may or may not have been trespassing, but when it is, the standard should be very high to take someone's property, becuase property rights (properly established and documented) should have a much higher priority than whatever right you call trespassing and vandalizing property. Traditional property rights are foundational to our system. They deserve more respect than modern legal minds can muster.

bagoh20 said...

"Maybe even a milkshake."

Perfect!

iowan2 said...

The left hates the constitution and the cornerstone protection of private property

James K said...

The owner knew the graffiti was valued. It had "recognized stature," didn't it?

That's the question, and I don't see that the answer is "yes." It seems entirely subjective and was determined ex post in the trial. I don't see that the owner was informed, other than in the vague sense that some people spent time creating it, and some other people might have found it pretty cool.

Jack Wayne said...

“The law is the law”. Until it changes tomorrow. And then changes the day after that. And that statement is factually incorrect. Just like a sporting event where a foul is not a foul unless the referee blows the whistle, a law is not a law unless the government enforces it.

grackle said...

… the jury found he violated the Visual Artists Rights Act, or V.A.R.A., which has been used to protect public art of 'recognized stature' created on someone’s else property.

Future NYT headline: JURY SEZ LOCAL PERFORMANCE ARTIST’S “DEFECATION ART” MUST “BE RECREATED FOR PUBLIC VIEWING”

Restaurant owner: “If he had kept it in a pile I could have dealt with it but he smeared it all over the floor and walls.”

Juror: “The law is very clear on this. The owner destroyed the art when he cleaned and disinfected the next day without giving the artist the opportunity to remove or photograph the work. Allowing the artist to recreate his art rectifies the situation.”

Fred Rawlings said...

Who are they going to get to prove the provenance that the artist painted it, the MET or Antiques Roadshow

mockturtle said...

If someone tattoos me against my will, do they own the tattoo and, by association, the part of my body where it is placed?

SeanF said...

mockturtle: If someone tattoos me against my will, do they own the tattoo and, by association, the part of my body where it is placed?

I would imagine, depending on the tattoo's designation as having "recognized stature", that you would have to notify them (and give them 90 days to photograph it?) before removing it or changing it.

Whether they had your permission to begin with or not appears to be entirely irrelevant.

Michael said...

Well, the grafitti "artists" will get the $6.7 million so there is that. They will get it.....won't....they?

SeanF said...

On that note, the text of the law is here. I'm not sure where the "90 days" comes from. The law seems to say that the author has to affirmatively agree (via a signed waiver), not just be notified.

David said...

So, in order to prevent the works from being of "recognized stature," you have to whitewash them very promptly.

Or post attack dogs and armed guards to prevent their being made in the first place.

SeanF said...

Ah, the 90 days notice comes from § 113 (d), but that specifically only applies to works "which can be removed from the building without the destruction, distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work as described in section 106A(a)(3)."

Graffiti can't be "removed from the building without...destruction," can it?

RI Red said...

Are there laws against vandalizing private property with regard to spray painting? The property owner should offer to pay all the "artists" who contributed to the mural, and when they show up to collect, have them all arrested.

Gospace said...

I disagree that the judge did his job. Application of the law in this case makes a mockery of the law. Negates all property rights. The so called artists did not the building. Anything on or in the building belongs solely to the owner. Scribbling on someone else's property doesn't give ownership rights.

Fred Rawlings said...

Serious question.
Will artists here illegally get the money

glenn said...

“Some Judge who thinks he’s funny says you’ll pay six to her”

I know, I know. I’m old.

Rumpletweezer said...

I used to think things couldn't possibly get dumber. I no longer think that.

EDH said...

The graffiti at 5Pointz was "a work of recognized stature."

"On my challenge, by the ancient laws of combat, we are met at this chosen ground, to settle for good and all who holds sway over the five points: us natives, born rightwise to this fine land, or the foreign hordes defiling it. "

Saint Croix said...

I'm an artist but to me it's so outrageous that these people broke into this guy's property, damaged it, and then sued him and took more money from him. Awful thing.

Earnest Prole said...


Just like a sporting event where a foul is not a foul unless the referee blows the whistle, a law is not a law unless the government enforces it.

I remember Scalia saying, roughly, 'It's not my job to fix the legislature's stupid and ill-advised laws, only to strike them down if they are unconstitutional.'

Howard said...

The art world is full of failures. Some, like Hitler, take it out on everyone else. By making these artists successful, we may have avoided WWIII, so there's that.

themightypuck said...

Isn't there a longstanding legal concept that the courts won't protect wrongdoers (I think it is called equitable estoppel). Hence if the art was illegally put up there they get nothing. Of course if the statue of limitations has run on crime and the owner didn't take action, does something along the lines of adverse possession hold such that the artists get at least some right based on expectations (the silly art law squeezing into the legal gap)? Doesn't this create all sorts of problems in the real estate market? I'm guessing the artists didn't record their art with the city register.

itzik basman said...

Any solicitor’s negligence here, I wonder.

Mark said...

This is what we get in today's "the law is whatever the hell I say it is" judicial decisionmaking.

This is also why judges ought to be open to personal liability for putting people to the time and expense of having to litigate against completely frivolous claims like this.

The judicial branch needs to be reined in.

Birkel said...

I have it on good authority from Earnest Prole that depriving somebody of their property rights for only 90 days is not really a Taking.

Earnest Prole must quarter soldiers in his house for 89 days. No Third Amendment problems.

Earnest Prole said...

I have it on good authority from Earnest Prole that depriving somebody of their property rights for only 90 days is not really a Taking.

You have a childlike notion that citing the law is agreeing with it. If you think this case is bad, you'll shit your pants when you read the really abusive stuff.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Who, whom.

Sure, it's the law. The law says "significant" and that's for the people to decide. The people decided. Ok. Let's not pretend it's anything more than power.

Side note: I think I'd flee the country and/or burn everything I owned before I'd pay a cent of such a judgement.

Breezy said...

5th amendment, meet 2nd amendment.

Matthew Sablan said...

The guy who destroyed it said he was doing performance art and, like the little girl statue who recontextualized the bull, he was recontextualizing their art, not destroying it.

Matthew Sablan said...

How long does it take to become well known art? If I tweet it, is it well known? If I make it to the White House and paint a symbol on it, do I get 90 days to leave it up? What if the art is offensive? Could a graffiti artist force a black church to keep up racial slurs because the art becomes noteworthy?

Matthew Sablan said...

... Wait. The NYT *has pictures of the murals.*

Matthew Sablan said...

"On August 21, 2013, the New York City Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve plans to build condos on the property, while the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected a landmark status nomination by artists because the art was less than 30 years old at the time.[11]"

-- Sounds like New York City didn't think it was of stature.

Matthew Sablan said...

They voted in August to destroy it.

September, October, November -- maybe not 90 days, but darn close.

Also: Since artists routinely painted over other artists graffiti... why did none of them sue each other?

Bukulu said...


Would somebody from among all you shouting "illegal" and "trespass" please address Ray's comment @ 12:26pm? He claims (without a link to any supporting material) that the owner had given permission to the grafittists. I think it's important to resolve this question, because it changes quite a bit if it is true.

Birkel said...

Earnest Prole thinks the internet comment section is the place to find insightful academic points.

What a maroon.

Matthew Sablan said...

Bukulu: The problem is that some of the art was curated, some of it was not. For example, I'm pretty sure the people who sprayed "ART MURDER" were not given permission to do so.

Matthew Sablan said...

And, either way, given that every article about it is well illustrated with multiple photos of the graffiti, the Wikipedia page has several, and even more findable with Google: I raise the issue over whether or not the artists *needed* time to photograph their work. Especially since they knew *since August* that the building was coming down.

rightguy2 said...

OK, anarchy wins a big victory in court. Hooray !!

Ralph L said...

How much is a giant penis worth?

Matthew Sablan said...

How can artists who were protesting for nearly three and a half months claim to have not known the building was going to be knocked down?

Breezy said...

If you want to be president, maybe don’t flaunt laws with your email server. If you want your art to live on forever, maybe don’t put it on someone else’s canvas. Just sayin’.

Birkel said...

Ralph L:

You in the market? I know a guy...

cyrus83 said...

The problem inherent in the logic of this ruling is that any team of graffiti artists could vandalize a building overnight, get some dopey art critics to hail it as genius, and effectively the property rights of the owner are impaired without consent nor compensation via criminal act, and the property owner may not even know to whom to serve a notice of destruction and therefore be stuck in a situation where they get sued when they try to restore their property.

I know that's not the case with this situation, as artists were allowed to tag the property, but the ruling seems to ignore the portion of the statute that treats art that is irremovable without its effective destruction differently than art that is removable. The 90 day notice in the legislative text explicitly applies only in the event the artwork can be removed (not possible with graffiti).

In the case of irremovable artwork, the only possibilities forseen are either that a) no rights exist consistent with section 113(d)(1) or b) the artists have the right to prevent destruction per section 106A(a). Given there is already a provision in section 120 allowing destruction of architectural works without the consent of the author, the argument to make would be that exterior painted art like graffiti is incorporated into the architecture of the building and hence subject to destruction at the whim of the owner.

Jay Elink said...

AA:

Do you think some constitutional right was violated?

*****************************

It's a goddamn unconstitutional "taking", is what it is.

indiana118 said...

So the moral is, don't invest in property in places like New York.

Achilles said...

Do you think some constitutional right was violated?

I think it is time to start spray painting a picture of my butt on things.

Lets start with the Clinton presidential Library, the Smithsonian, some planned parenthood clinics, John Kerry's house.

Every time they take that picture of my butt down without leaving it up there for 90 days I want 6.7 million dollars.

Time for those hoarders and wreckers to pay up.

Achilles said...


If you don't like pictures of my butt on your stuff you are racist.

JAORE said...

"There's an idea. Each year, take the judge with the most judgements overturned on appeal and kick them down a level, like European soccer teams."

Ooooh, I likee. Puts some judicial skin in the game.

Gleefully stolen.

mccullough said...

This will be overturned. There are no damages, much less $6.7 million, for failure to notify. Since he had the right to take it off no matter what, there are no damages. Their emotional distress at not having 90 more days to enjoy their graffiti is worth $19 at most.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I just hope a bunch of attorneys billing out at 2 or 3 K per hour get thousands of billable hours out of this.

Because that makes me feel good for those guys, they earned every penny and we all ought be honored that such men live.

The Law is Master and for damn good reason.