Brickbat: Strong Property Rights


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A federal judge in Brooklyn has awarded $6.7 million to graffiti artists whose work was destroyed when the owner of dilapidated warehouses they had painted in Queens, New York, tore the buildings down. The judge ruled Jerry Wolkoff, owner of the buildings, violated a federal law giving artists rights to their work, even when someone else owns the physical work, or in this case, the buildings the work was painted on. Wolkoff allowed the artists to paint the buildings but said they always understood he would tear the buildings down.

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  1. The developer isn’t even sorry – he laughs like the Joker after a particularly vicious crime spree –

    “”Wolkoff has been singularly unrepentant. He was given multiple opportunities to admit the whitewashing was a mistake, show remorse, or suggest he would do things differently if he had another chance,” Block said.

    “”Wolkoff could care less. As he callously testified,” the judge said. “The sloppy, half-hearted nature of the whitewashing left the works easily visible under thin layers of cheap, white paint, reminding the plaintiffs on a daily basis what had happened. The mutilated works were visible by millions of people on the passing 7 train.””

    1. Is refuse to believe that was the judge’s actual reasoning, even though he said those words out loud. This will surely be overturned on appeal. Right?

  2. What the FUCK? If you don’t want your work destroyed, paint it on your own fucking property.


  3. “Wolkoff allowed the artists to paint the buildings but said they always understood he would tear the buildings down.”

    So, building owners need to be proactive and chase off the graffiti people *before* they can perpetrate any art.

    1. Otherwise, your building might become the city’s…center of graffiti.

  4. “Wolkoff could care less. As he callously testified,” the judge said.

    That misspeak is grounds for appeal.

    1. You misspelled capital punishment.

      1. Seconded.

  5. The owner gave them permission to paint. That means they were NOT graffiti artists. Case dismissed.

  6. “world’s largest collection of quality outdoor aerosol art,”

    This country is doomed.

    1. DOOMED!

  7. I was watching a documentary about Banksy. There was one building owner who promptly had a Banksy painted over. I’m all for property rights, but if Banksy wants to basically hand me $500k or more in the middle of the night, I say go for it. I could use the dough.

    1. Perhaps, but some people are not motivated by money and may find the curiousity seekers to be an annoyance.

  8. Unless they had a contract, in no way should art painted on a dilapidated structure somebody else owns be considered permanent.

    I am not sure what relevence that some of the graffitists went to art school has.

  9. Did the graffiti artists pay real estate taxes on the property? If not, they should kiss my ass!

  10. I would point out to the taggers the judge’s address. Then we’ll see just how much the judge respects the taggers.

  11. Paint it over before anyone notices. Kind of like when you see the rare and endangered red-spotted rat toad hanging around your property. Shoot-shovel-shut up.

  12. No wonder the old guys used to always shout “You kids get off my lawn!”

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