The decision represents a decisive victory for street artists in a case that pitted their rights against those of a real estate executive.
The artists sued the developer, Gerald Wolkoff, for violating their rights after he whitewashed their work at the famous 5Pointz art mecca in Long Island City to make way for condos.
Meanwhile, he praised the artists, who “have conducted themselves with dignity, maturity, respect, and at all times within the law.” The artists’ behavior contributed to his decision to award them significant damages, Block wrote.
In the lawsuit, the artists alleged that their rights had been violated under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA).
The law protects works of “recognized stature”—but even experts admit the term is vague and subject to broad interpretation.