Artists and commuters woke up to a shock Tuesday morning when they discovered an iconic Queens landmark destroyed after building owners whitewashed the 5 Pointz graffiti mecca overnight. 5 Pointz, which is slated for demolition to make way for luxury high-rises, has been caught in an acrimonious battle between the local art community and property owners Jerry and David Wolkoff since 2012. According to 5 Pointz curator Jonathan Cohen, the Wolkoffs’ hasty paint job was meant to destroy a last-minute Landmark Designation initiative launched by 5 Pointz defenders.
In just a few hours, the Wolkoffs wiped away nearly 30 years of New York art history as well as any hopes of preserving 5 Pointz through a landmark designation. Throughout the day, 5 Pointz supporters added their thoughts about the situation in a series of heartfelt notes taped along the walls.
Last month, the City Council approved the Wolkoffs’ plans to demolish the graffiti palace and build luxury apartment towers. Despite the approval for demolition, 5 Pointz defenders continued to stage demonstrations and rally local support. Without the artwork, however, artists and supporters have little to bring to court against the proposed demolition.
Denouncing the whitewashing as “art murder,” Cohen told DNAinfo that even after the new buildings are complete, the Wolkoffs have already cemented their legacy as villains of the arts community. The artists held a candlelight vigil at the painted-over warehouse Tuesday night.
Photos ©Yuka Yoneda