New York Loses Graffiti Landmark

Iconic 5Pointz building whitewashed.

11.19.13 5:07 PM ET

You win some, you lose some.

In October, New York buzzed as the graffiti artist, Banksy, painted a different work of street art almost every day for his Better Out Than In project. But apparently the graffiti fever passed by some New Yorkers. On Tuesday, commuters and residents of Long Island City, Queens, woke up to find one of the Big Apple’s most iconic graffiti buildings, 5 Pointz, completely whitewashed.

Named for New York's five boroughs, 5 Pointz has been a canvas for street artists since the 1990s.  While the private owners, Jerry and David Wolkoff, have never interfered with the artwork, they now plan to redevelop the property into high-end condos, requiring them to demolish the building and erase over two decades of art.

After it was announced earlier this month that the building would soon be destroyed, artists and activists pulled together and filed a lawsuit to protect the buildings under the Visual Artists Rights Act.  VARA, after meeting certain requirements, protects the artist’s work regardless of who “owns"  it. 

But the defense argued that graffiti didn’t qualify for protection. When New York’s district court ruled in favor of the owners, the world lost a landmark.