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Cohen v. G & M Realty L.P.
United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
988 F. Supp. 2d 212, 2013 Copr. L. Dec. P 30, 523 (2013)
A group of derelict buildings achieved nationwide recognition as a particularly large collection of aerosol-based graffiti art. The buildings were owned by G & M Realty L.P. (defendant) and Gerald Wolkoff (defendant), who planned to demolish them and replace them with apartments. Wolkoff informally agreed to let artist Jonathan Cohen (plaintiff) serve as a curator for the graffiti art on the property. Although Cohen regarded some of the artwork as temporary and some as permanent, Wolkoff viewed the entire arrangement as temporary. Wolkoff obtained the city’s approval for the demolition. Cohen sought a preliminary injunction under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), which gave the author of a visual work of recognized stature the right to prevent destruction of the work, though the act left the meaning of the phrase recognized stature to the determination of the courts. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York denied Cohen injunctive relief. A written opinion explaining this denial came after the buildings were demolished.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Block, J.)
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