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Graffiti Seen as a Selling Point in Some Manhattan Apartments

By Amy Zimmer | August 14, 2013 7:45am
 Graffiti Seen as a Selling Point for Some Rentals
Graffiti in apartments
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MANHATTAN — Usually when a tenant spray paints graffiti on the walls of a rental apartment, it's grounds for losing a security deposit.

Some landlords, however, will preserve this artifact of New York art, much like some will save moldings or claw foot bath tubs of pre-war buildings. They can be a selling point for the next residents, who get a private instant gallery, of sorts, brokers said.

“People call and ask, 'Does the artwork come with the apartment?'" BOND New York broker Janine Young said of a furnished 800 square-foot loft at 45 Bond St. — that rents for roughly $6,000 a month on a short term basis— with a mural of the iconic baby that bears an uncanny resemblance to the work of Andre Charles, a Lower East Side graffiti artist who was big in the 1990s. 

Young said the connection is probable, since the landlord of the Bond Street apartment also owned Spectra, a photo printing shop "when that area was home to Andy Warhol and other famous artists. They used to have the whole apartment covered in graffiti."

"They kept one little piece hanging over the door [with a basketball hoop]," she continued. "I think they wanted to leave a little remembrance.”

The unit's owner was overseas and couldn't be reached to confirm the mural's provenance.

One of the apartment's recent tenants included actor Logan Lerman, of "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," Young noted.

Young says she has rented several apartments with graffiti to clients of late, including a Christopher Street studio where the signature character of famed French graffiti artist Andre Saraiva — who has a big new installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles — graces a wall.

 This piece by Andre Saraiva is in a West Village apartment.
This piece by Andre Saraiva is in a West Village apartment.
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BOND New York

"A New York socialite was living there [before] and her boyfriend, who happened to be well known graffiti artist, painted it as a housewarming," Young explained.  "I thought it was an asset for the right person. It was such a cute pre-war apartment, and it was just really cute to have this graffiti."

Young said she gave the new tenant the option to have it painted over.

"I was unsure about it at first," admitted the current resident, a woman in her 30s, who requested anonymity. "But I love it. It's fun. It definitely inspires my artsier side."

Two graduate students coming to NYU from out-of-state requested that a graffiti mural be preserved during gut renovation of a Harlem unit they're hoping to move into in the fall, their broker Cindy Macio, also of BOND New York said.

Macio, who was working remotely with the students from Georgia and Florida, sent them pre-renovated images of the two-bedroom apartment on West 141st Street.

"When I sent them the picture, they said they loved the mural," Macio said. "I called [the landlord] and asked, 'Do you mind leaving it?' So, the guys are working around it."

She added: "It's nice to see a lot of these landlords appreciate art."

The apartment — listed for $1,850 a month — jumped in price from similar renovated units in the building. Last summer one went for $1,650, and one in the winter went for $1,750, Macio said.

The artist, however, still lost his part of his security deposit.

"But it wasn't for the mural," Macio said. "It was for a very dark purple, almost black wall, and some broken cabinets."