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Fans save Brooklyn's Biggie Smalls mural from development

An outpouring of support from as far off as Atlanta helped save a beloved Brooklyn mural of rapper Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls.
The giant Biggie Smalls mural in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn was threatened by a renovation project. Photo: Getty Images
The giant Biggie Smalls mural in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn was threatened by a renovation project. Photo: Getty Images

Who needs California love when you’ve got the whole of the East Coast rooting for you?

The beloved three-story mural of Brooklyn rap legend Biggie Smalls at Bedford Avenue and Quincy Street will stay intact after a week-long campaign by Notorious B.I.G. fans.

“Thank you Brooklyn! And a very very special thanks to the landlords for recognizing the importance of Biggie in this neighborhood!” the creative collective Spread Art NY wrote on Instagram.

 

Thank you Brooklyn! And a very very special thanks to the landlords for recognizing the importance of Biggie in this neighborhood! First we would like to thank both the Mayor's and congressman Jeffries offices for reaching out and offering all kinds of support to keep this iconic mural where it is! We also would like to thank every single local organization for coming forward with their resources . We would like to thank all the companies for offering financial support. ATLANTA has got so much love for Biggie! Thank you TI @troubleman31 for having your team contact us on a daily basis to get the updates. Special thanks to Mr. Guevara from @brooklynnets for the daily phone calls to make sure we get all the needed resources. We would like to thank all of you who have stood besides us! PLEASE if you see the landlords, THANK them for this generous gift to our community!! ! Happy Belated Birthday, King!!! 🎂@tyanna810 @cjordanwallace @therealfaithevans #spreadloveitsthebrooklynway #spreadartnyc #bedfordandquincy #20bigyears

A post shared by Spread Art NYC (@spreadartnyc) on

The King of NY mural created in 2015 by Naoufal “Rocko” Alaoui and Scott “Zimer” Zimmerman had been threatened because of a renovation project that would've added windows to the building’s facade, according to Spread Art.

To offset what landlord Solomon Berkowitz claimed would be a $500-a-month increase in rent revenue, according to Spread Art, they offered $5,000 — which would’ve had to be crowdfunded — to keep the mural intact, but Berkowitz $1,250 a month.

“At this point, there is nothing Spread Art NYC can do to save this mural,” Spread Art wrote on Instagram on May 15. “We will continue to serve our neighborhoods regardless!! We always say, Brooklyn is Biggie and Biggie is Brooklyn. A landlord can NEVER change that!”

It’s safe to say Berkowitz didn’t suddenly become a patron of the arts in the past week, but the landlord isn’t commenting directly on his decision not to go through with the renovations. 

Since the Instagram post announcing the mural’s imminent loss went up on May 15, Spread Art has been inundated with support from Brooklyn residents all the way up to U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and as far as Atlanta.

Among the gestures of support was a petition to grant the mural landmark status — a move that Spread the Love declined to back in a now-deleted Instagram post, reminding everyone that there but for the grace of landlords goes all street art. Their post announcing the mural victory closes with: “PLEASE if you see the landlords, THANK them for this generous gift to our community!!”