A group of 21 street artists emerged victorious in their suit against the developer who whitewashed their work from the historic Queens, New York graffiti mecca known as 5Pointz.
A federal judge handed the group a $6.75 million judgment on Monday, ruling the developer’s destruction of the street art violated the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), which provides certain artists rights over work even if it is not their property. The ruling provides closure for one of the most-watched legal battles in the art world, one that began after developer Jerry Wolkoff whitewashed 5Pointz without specific warning, destroying the graffiti artworks in November 2013. But the impact of the suit may well echo far into the future. The judgement marks the first time graffiti artists have triumphed in a VARA lawsuit and the 50 page opinion penned by Judge Frederic Block gives other graffiti artists hope that they could find success bringing cases under the statute—though they may not be awarded such high damages.