Hours after nearly all the graffiti at 5Pointz was covered in white paint, artists made another pilgrimage to the outdoor art exhibit and "graffiti Mecca" in Long Island City — this time, to mourn.
"It was more than just graffiti," said Dready Kruger, an emcee who did music for 5Pointz events. "I met people from all around the world at this place."
Jerry Wolkoff, who owns the 200,000 square feet of warehouses, ordered the early Tuesday paint job in preparation for the property's demolition next year.
"I thought it was better to do so we don't go through this torture," Wolkoff said, noting the demolition will take months. "Imagine every time a bulldozer goes by and another piece goes — I'd imagine it'd be torture to them, the artists. If I were able to blow up the building one time, I would."
Wolkoff plans to turn the site into luxury housing, a move approved by City Council in October. A lawsuit was filed in federal court by 17 graffiti artists hoping to save the art, but a judge refused to issue an injunction against the demolition last week.
Artists tried to designate 5Pointz as a landmark, but the warehouses didn't meet the city's qualifications, Wolkoff said.
"They paint over their stuff over and over again," he said. "If it were landmarked, they could never paint there again."
The development will include 32,100 feet of public space, a park playing homage to the site's artistic past, art studios and 10,000 square feet of wall space designated for aerosol art.
5Pointz curator Jonathan Cohen, who led the lawsuit against the demolition, will oversee the new space, officials said.
"Here at my new building they'll be able to come back and do aerosol again," Wolkoff said.
White paint now covers most of the graffiti at 5Pointz, an outdoor art exhibit and "graffiti Mecca" in Long Island City. Credit: Aaron Adler/Metro
Still, artists feel 5Pointz deserved better.
"Something like this isn't just a building," graffiti artist Chayenne Chaka said in October. "It's a piece of history."
Wolkoff said he watched workers paint 5Pointz starting around 2 a.m. Tuesday, leaving at 6:30 a.m., when most of the work was completed.
He said he teared up when watching the art painted over.
"We take the medicine now, it's over with, we go on," Wolkoff said.