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What the 5 Pointz graffiti whitewashing case could mean for real estate owners

If artists prevail in the trial, developers may be obligated to draft wide-ranging contractual stipulations

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Update: the verdict came down the night of Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in favor of the artists. Read more here. Jurors on Tuesday inched closer to a verdict in the 5 Pointz graffiti trial, a case involving a rarely tested statute of the federal Visual Artists Rights Act that may have wide-ranging implications for real estate developers nationwide, according to experts in the areas of art and real estate. The trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, which began in October, centers on the destruction of mural-sized graffiti -- or aerosol art -- covering the iconic 5 Pointz building in Long Island City, Queens. More than 20 artists have accused the owner, Jerry Wolkoff, of violating the Visual Artists Rights Act, which protects art of “recognized stature,” when he whitewashed the 45-46 Davis St. building in 2013 and demolished it a year later to make way for residential towers. A subsection of the Copyright Act, the 1990 Visual Artists Rights provision protects against “intentional disto...