Queens, NY – A judge has ordered a property owner to pay $6.7 million to graffiti artists who tagged his building because he showed no remorse for destroying their work when he tore down the building he owned.
Federal Judge Frederic Block made the decision on Monday that property owner Jerry Wolkoff should have been remorseful for destroying his own property, according to PIX11.
The site known as 5Pointz involved an abandoned warehouse building that graffiti artists had been painting on for years.
Billed as the “world’s largest collection of quality outdoor aerosol art,” the graffiti artists set up a system for determining what art was temporary, and what art remained permanent.
Wolkoff said that he had initially allowed the graffiti artists to paint on the abandoned building, but in 2013 he painted over the graffiti, and then he tore the building down a year later to make way for luxury condos.
The graffiti artists sued, citing the federal Visual Artists Rights Act, which grants artists rights to their work even when somebody else owns it.
The obscure federal law requires property owners to obtain written consent from artists before destroying their artwork.
Wolkoff could have avoided the written consent by waiting almost a year for a federal permit and allowing artists time to first remove their work.
However, the property owner was entirely without remorse for destroying his own property.
“Wolkoff has been singularly unrepentant. He was given multiple opportunities to admit the whitewashing was a mistake, show remorse, or suggest he would do things differently if he had another chance,” Judge Block said while awarding Wolkoff to pay $6.7 million, according to PIX11. “Wolkoff could care less. As he callously testified.”