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Is the Writing on the Wall? 5Pointz & Street Artists’ Rights

  • Sotheby's Institute of Art 570 LEXINGTON AVENUE - 6TH FLOOR NEW YORK, NY 10022 United States (map)

For over a decade, aerosol artists, led by curator Jonathan Cohen (Meres One), painted the façade of a derelict factory complex in Long Island City, transforming it into the world famous 5Pointz, aka the Institute of Higher Burnin’ or 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. On November 19, 2013 the owner of the building, Jerry Wolkoff, whitewashed the building complex without warning. A year and a half later, the building was demolished, to be replaced with a luxury condominium. Following a three-week trial in late 2017, a Federal District Court last February awarded $6.75 million to 21 of the artists under a rarely litigated statute, the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), which protects artists’ moral rights in their work. The case is now on appeal before the Second Circuit. Stake holders on both sides are trying to make sense of the significance of this momentous decision, which ruled that 45 of the works were of “recognized stature” under VARA. 

Join us for a discussion with insiders and experts on this ground-breaking case, including Jonathan Cohen aka Meres One, Founder of 5Pointz and 5Pointz Creates, Marie Cecile Flageul, Co-Founder of 5Pointz Creates and Curator of the Museum of Street Art (MoSA), Angelo Madrigale, Director of Contemporary Art at Doyle, Renee Vara, Founder & CEO of VARA ART, and Steven R. Wagner, Esq., Partner at Wagner Berkow LLP. The discussion will be hosted by Judith Prowda, Esq., MA in Art Business Faculty, Sotheby’s Institute of Art- New York.  

RSVP required. Space is limited. Priority access for MA students and alumni. Please note that this event will be closed promptly at 7:00 PM due to building security.


Judith B. Prowda, Esq., Faculty, MA Art Business, Sotheby’s Institute of Art-New York

Judith Prowda has been a member of the Sotheby’s institute of Art Masters degree in Art Business faculty since 2007. She is an attorney, mediator, and arbitrator focused on art law, copyright, entertainment and commercial law. She is a founding member of Stropheus Art Law, a collective of art law and business specialists who offer unbundled services to the art community. Her book, Visual Arts and the Law: A Handbook for Professionals (2013), is in its second printing and has been translated into Korean. She is Past Chair of the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section of the NYS Bar Association and Chair of the Fine Arts Committee and Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee and a member of the Art Law Committee of the NYC Bar. Recently, Judith participated in a small working group of lawyers who created the Court of Arbitration for Art (CAfA).  She is a frequent speaker and has published extensively on issues related to art law and business. 



Jonathan Cohen aka Meres One, Founder, 5Pointz and 5Pointz Creates

Jonathan "Meres One" Cohen was born 1973 in the South Bronx and raised in Queens, New York. Cohen's interest in visual art spans the entirety of his life, but it wasn't until 1987 that Meres One discovered graffiti art and began expressing himself through tags in the streets, graduating to piecing together larger works by 1990 and the birth of his trademark lightbulb, "The Bright Idea." 1991 saw Meres enrolling in New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology's illustration program. Using aerosol art as his primary vehicle for expression, Meres One has taken his multi-layered, technically sound, color laden visions from local to global arenas, from street walls to galleries, from head nodding next to the boombox to facilitating and appearing in countless music videos. He is recognized for his work by news publications such as the New York Times, The Huffington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as providing notable contributions to major motion film works such as "Now You See Me" and "Brown Sugar" and television programs including The Today Show, Fuse TV, Project Runway, and an ESPN US Open, Fox "5 after Empire" segment. Throughout his 30 active years as an aerosol artist, Meres's works number in the thousands. He is the founder of OTM aerosol art collective and a member of the CBS crew, one of the most elite and prolific aerosol art collectives in the world. He has innovated making 5Pointz a vehicle to elevate the art form, educate both the general public and fellow spray can craftsmen in providing a creative, legal alternative to street vandalism.  

Marie Cecile Flageul, Co-Founder, 5Pointz Creates and Curator, Museum of Street Art (MoSA)

Marie Cecile Flageul was born and raised in Brittany, France, a few miles off la Manche. Her first trip to New York City at the age of sixteen sparked her love story with the city that never sleeps. Following her initial stay in the Lower East Side, she returned to France and then back again to North America and extensively traveled throughout it, exploring more states than most, and enjoying every experience. Her first love and passion was writing with her goal being to write and move to New York City. After completing her studies at La Sorbonne, she moved to New York and started her career in the event world working for a prestigious incentive house and becoming partner in 2003. After 15 years in event planning and over 1000 events completed, she felt it was time for her to start her own signature firm rebranded this year as Marie Cecile Flageul has been recognized as the trendsetter in the industry. Often copied, she takes it as a compliment and as an incentive to always look for the next big idea. She has applied all her production and curatorial skills to 5Pointz and now 5Pointz Creates. Named and recognized as an activist and true advocate for public art, she was invited to join the board of the New York Housing and Development Corporation (HDC). In 2015, she was given the "art and activism" award by the Gold Coast Art Center. Her curatorial debut was the highly acclaimed "Whitewash Show" in February 2014, and she has not stopped since. Her passion for culture is infectious and her dedication relentless.  In 2019, she was appointed to the Board of Queens Council on the Arts (QCA). 

Angelo Madrigale, Director of Contemporary Art, Doyle

Angelo Madrigale joined Doyle in 2011 as Registrar for the Paintings Department. He is currently the Director of Contemporary Art at Doyle. In 2012, Angelo was the specialist for Doyle’s inaugural Street Art auction, the first sale in the United States devoted to Street Art and Graffiti.  Angelo is the Specialist in charge of the Contemporary works in Doyle New York’s semiannual auctions of Post-War & Contemporary Art, which showcase works by established artists alongside the works of emerging Contemporary, Street Art and Graffiti artists. In 2005, Angelo and his wife, Lisa, opened Metropolis Gallery in Pennsylvania, which showcased works by emerging Contemporary Artists together with Modern and Contemporary Design. The gallery was named one of the world’s “Top 100 Galleries” by Juxtapoz Magazine in 2010. Angelo earned a BFA in Related Arts from Kutztown University. He was also an adjunct Professor at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, where he created and taught the courses, Understanding the Global Contemporary Art Market and The Business of Art. 

Renee Vara, Founder & CEO, VARA ART

Renée Vara is the Director of VARA ART, a full-service art advisory firm, with over 25 years of experience. She is a AAA Certified and USPAP tested Appraiser with 4 areas of specialty. She currently serves on the Advisory Council and was past two-term Board Member for the AAA. She regularly lectures and has published for more than 50 organizations and institutions. She is an award-winning faculty at NYU and has served as an Appointed Lecturer at the Guggenheim (NY) and Sotheby's Institute. She has been cited in more than 40 media outlets including the Art Newspaper, ARTnews, NY Times, WSJ, Forbes, and has curated more than 40 international emerging art shows, including the Istanbul Biennale. Renée has served as an art legal expert for significant cases, including, 5Pointz vs. G&M Realty, Hilti Family Trust vs. Knoedler Gallery, Salander-O'Reilly and Heritage vs. Christie’s. 

Steven R. Wagner, Esq., Partner, Wagner Berkow LLP

Steven R. Wagner has been a litigator focusing on corporate and real estate law for more than 30 years. He founded the firm of Wagner Davis P.C. in 1984, was a principal at the firm of Porzio Bromberg & Newman, P.C. from 2013 to 2014 and founded the firm of Wagner Berkow, LLP in December 2014. Mr. Wagner litigates corporate, commercial and real estate matters as well as Internet defamation, and practices in all areas of co-op and condominium law. He also represents many cooperatives, condominiums and individual owners of apartments on a variety of issues including construction defects, sponsor defaults, “Pullman” actions, claims against defaulting unit owners, and discrimination/human rights claims. He also services corporations, commercial and residential real estate developers and landlords, real estate and investment entities, individual directors and partners involved in corporate or partnership disputes, residential and commercial tenants and tenants’ associations, and several high-profile restaurateurs. Mr. Wagner is frequently quoted in respected publications, including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, the New York Observer, The Real Deal and Crain’s New York Business, and In addition, he has written on legal issues for both The Cooperator and New York Habitat, publications that specialize in co-ops and condominiums. Mr. Wagner is frequently interviewed for articles focusing on New York City real estate issues and has lectured for the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives, the New York County Lawyers’ Association, and the Council of New York Cooperatives. He has also appeared on Good Morning America, CNN’s First Edition, Campbell Brown, and other national television and radio programs concerning internet defamation and First Amendment Rights. Mr. Wagner serves on the board of the Parker Jewish Institute for Healthcare and Rehabilitation, is actively involved in other areas of the community, and supports and participates in charitable activities involving mental health.

Earlier Event: October 26
Art Law Day 2018 | Panel Discussion