BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — If he didn’t know, now he knows.
The owner of a building emblazoned with a two-story mural of the Notorious B.I.G. has reversed his decision to remove the mural after an outburst of anger from hip-hop heads and Bed-Stuy residents — telling the artists he didn't understand fully what the rapper meant to the neighborhood, they told DNAinfo New York.
“To be honest, he just didn’t know how important Biggie is to Brooklyn,” said Naoufal “Rocko” Alaoui, who painted the mural with Scott "Zimer" Zimmerman in 2015 as part of their art collective Spread Art NYC. “He’s not a bad guy. A lot of people offered to help financially, but he said he don’t need the money, just the respect of his neighbors.”
Landlord Solomon Berkowitz did not respond to a request for comment. But he came under fire from the public after telling the artists and DNAinfo that he didn't need anyone's permission to remove the mural — saying he was planning to renovate to add windows to the exterior wall of the building, located at Bedford and Quincy avenues.
Supporters wrote petitions calling for it to be landmarked, and the artists were flooded with calls of people asking how they could help, they said.
The Brooklyn Nets pledged in an Instagram post Sunday — Biggie’s birthday — to do whatever the team could to help.
But in the end, Berkowitz, agreed to let the mural stay, the artists said.
“He’s been very respectful by letting us use his wall for this long, and we want everyone else to respect him,” Alaoui said. “This is a gift from Mr. Berkowitz.”
Berkowitz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.