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Commercial Litigation Landlord Tenant Law Litigation

“VARA-90”: What Landlords Can Do to Stop the Aerosol Spread … of Graffiti Artists’ Claims

How did the artists qualify for protection under the Visual Artists Rights Act, how could the owners know whether the artists had achieved “recognized stature” warranting prevention of their works’ destruction, and what could the owners have done to avoid liability while retaining the right to dispose of their properties as they saw fit?


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No, it’s not another virus. “VARA” is the federal Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (17 U.S.C. §101, et seq.). The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in February 2020 affirmed an award of $6.75 million in statutory damages — the maximum — to “aerosol” (a/k/a graffiti) artists against the owners of warehouse buildings on which the plaintiff-artists’ works were painted because the building owners destroyed the works in violation of VARA. See, Castillo v. G&M Realty L.P., 950 F.3d 155 (2d Cir. 2020).

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