LONG ISLAND CITY — The graffiti-covered facade of tagging mecca 5Pointz was wiped out overnight — leaving a whitewashed paint job for horrified artists to discover Tuesday morning.
The colorful walls of the industrial complex-turned-art exhibit — which was decorated by taggers from all over the world, including Stay High 149, Tracy 168 and Tats Cru — are now coated in white paint.
"5 pointz is gone building was painted overnight white with nypd s blessing and without permits as usual," 5Pointz wrote Tuesday morning on its official" Twitter feed.
The building, which is owned by father-and-son developers Jerry and David Wolkoff of G&M Realty, is slated to be replaced by a pair of luxury high-rises, in a controversial move that sparked outrage in the artists' community.
5Pointz curator Jonathan Cohen and a group of other 5Pointz artists filed a lawsuit against G&M Realty in federal court last month, seeking legal protection for their works in an effort to save the buildings. But last week, the judge in the case denied the artists’ request for a preliminary injunction blocking demolition at the site.
Jerry Wolkoff told DNAinfo New York on Tuesday that he made the decision to paint over the buildings' facade because he thought it would be better than to have the works of art bulldozed one at a time, over the course of several months, when demolition begins.
"Not getting tortured over and over everyday, watching a piece come down everyday," he said. "This is the decision I made for the both of us — I thought it out for them and for me."
He added that he has nothing but admiration for the artists and their works.
"Would I let this happen for close to 20 years if I didn’t like it? Forget about the word 'like,' I loved it," he said, saying 5Pointz artists will be invited back to work at his new buildings, which will have space set aside for artists' studios as well as "art walls" for taggers.
"I'm inviting them back to do more," he said.
But backers of the original art space said the Wolkoffs' actions Monday were a slap in the face for artists everywhere.
"In 10 years from now, when the art form is fully accepted, [they] won't be remembered for any individual real estate property [they] built. [They'll] be remembered for the greatest art murder in history. That will be [their] legacy," Cohen, whose tag name is Meres One, said at the building Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday morning, a small crowd gathered at 5Pointz, many expressing their disbelief at the paint job.
"Look at the white paint on the walls that once were pretty," said Dready Kruger, an emcee who says he does music for 5Pointz events.
He said he has friends from around the world, artists who have painted at 5Pointz, who were dismayed to hear that their works were now gone.
"Gentrification wins, I guess," he said.
5Pointz artists have been trying to get the site considered for landmark designation, according to volunteer Marie Cecile Flageul. A rally in support of the group drew hundreds of people to the buildings this past weekend.
Flageul said they were planning a candlelight vigil for Tuesday night, starting around 5 p.m.
Long Island City resident David Lazer, 40, lives across the street from 5Pointz with his wife and son, and said was surprised to see the change when he looked out his window Tuesday morning.
"We're pretty upset," he said, saying he enjoyed being able to see the art from his apartment. "It was a real New York view."