“A heretic” has outraged the graffiti’s “Mecca” and now he’ll have to pay dearly. Literally. That heretic is the entrepreneur Jerry Wolkoff, while the temple of New York and world writing that has resisted until 2013 is 5Pointz, the historic complex located in Long Island City, in the Queens district of New York.
Jerry Wolkoff, who is the owner of the giant five-storey warehouse full of murales and became a pilgrimage destination for artists and enthusiasts, was condemned by federal judge Frederic Block to refund $ 6.75 million for having canceled, with a brush of white piant, the graffiti of 21 writers among the most celebrated of the underground scene.
Wolfkoff, who wants to make this a luxury residential complex with 1300 apartments on this site, pays the traitorous move to cover all the works, during the night between 18 and 19 November 2013, ten months earlier than the contracts. The indignant artists declared themselves “raped” labeling the decision as “gratuitous, deliberate and evil” for not allowing them to save their works. 5Pointz, named like this because it represents the five boroughs of New York, has inherited the vibrant charge of 70s-80s muralism, becoming a symbol of the Big Apple, even reported in tourist guides. One of the first graffiti was a portrait of Jam Master J, one of the first hip hop djs, a member of Run DMC, while the project’s artistic coordinator was Jonathan Cohen, known as Meres One, one who the last attempted to safeguard the history of the building by trying to place it on the list of monuments in the city.
The judgement is historic because it gives weight and value to graffiti and street art. Judge Frederic Block had poignant words: «The shame of this whole story is that being 5Pointz an important tourist attraction, the public would have flocked together to say goodbye and would have contemplated these extraordinary graffiti for the last time. It would have been a wonderful and well deserved tribute to the artists».