BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A two-story mural of Bed-Stuy’s hometown hero Notorious B.I.G. is slated to be destroyed after the owner of the building on which it’s painted prepares to renovate, according to the landlord and and the mural’s artists.
The mural, located on a building at Bedford Avenue and Quincy Street, has drawn tourists and hip-hop heads since it was painted in 2015, but now the landlord, Solomon Berkowitz, said he needs to remove it in order to add new windows.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Berkowitz said he saw no reason to keep the mural.
“Let me rephrase the question: Why should I keep it?” he said. “I don’t even see the point of the discussion. I could demolish the building if I wanted to, I don’t need no permission from anyone except the DOB.”
Berkowitz declined to discuss the matter further, and it was not immediately clear when the mural would be removed. He secured permits in March for the work, which includes a gut renovation of the second floor and the addition of two windows to the wall with the mural, Department of Buildings records show.
In an Instagram post by Spread Art NYC, a collective affiliated with the mural’s artists Naoufal “Rocko” Alaoui and Scott "Zimer" Zimmerman, the group said Berkowitz had offered to keep the mural up in exchange for $1,200 a month, but said the collective would be unable to sustain the cost.
A few updates on "king Of NY" Mural: we just want everyone to know that Spread Art NYC, your humble community Art organization has been working real hard to keep this mural up for the past year! Landlord always calls us and Claims that the neighbors are complaining about the mural and the crowds it attracts. About 4 months ago, he told us about the construction he will be doing which will damage the mural in the process. He will be opening Windows on the wall to increase rent profit by $500 according to them. Today Spread Art NYC offered $5000 (which we planned to gather from the community and the fans) not to open the windows. Unfortunately, that offer was declined and it was answered by a counteroffer of $1250 a month. At this point, there is nothing Spread Art NYC can do to save this mural. We will continue to serve our neighborhoods regardless!! Community is our goal, we like to give back and we thought A biggie mural at the corner of #bedfordandquincy was needed to keep the culture alive, to keep Brooklyn Alive. We always say, Brooklyn is Biggie and Biggie is Brooklyn. A landlord can NEVER change that! We want to thank everyone for the love! We promise, we GOT YOU!!!💪💯#spreadartnyc #20bigyears #bedstuy #bedfordstuyvesant #biggie #kingofny #livefrombedfordstuyvesant #spreadloveitsthebrooklynway
The group bemoaned the mural’s imminent demise, but hoped to keep the spirit of the painting alive.
“We always say, Brooklyn is Biggie and Biggie is Brooklyn,” read the caption. “A landlord can NEVER change that!”
As news of the mural’s planned takedown spread, fans of the work took to social media to decry what some described as the march of gentrification.
“Do not allow them to continue to destroy Brooklyn as we know it,” wrote one Instagram user. “What Brooklyn was once known for is quickly fading away.”