New York's 5 Pointz graffiti exhibit painted white by building owners, despite protests by artists

Buildings to be demolished by owners

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A New York graffiti art exhibit that drew visitors throughout the world was painted over early Tuesday morning despite efforts by artists and fans to keep the popular outdoor attraction open.

The whitewashing of the renowned graffiti haven known as 5 Pointz, a hulking warehouse in the Long Island City section of Queens, appears to mark the end of legal efforts by supporters to save it and even a last-minute attempt to secure landmark status for the building.

A federal judge last week denied an injunction to stop the razing of the building by developers Jerry and David Wolkoff, the warehouse owners, who plan to transform the site into high-end condos.

"I've been learning a lot in this whole battle," Jonathan Cohen, aka "Meres One," the 5 Pointz art curator, told CNN affiliate NY1.

He added, "I guess I have a little less faith in the system."

Jerry Wolkoff told CNN that he decided to paint over the walls now because the building will take several months to tear down, and he didn't want the artists' work to be ruined in the process.

"I had tears in my eyes this morning when we painted over it," Wolkoff said. "I have nothing but admiration for the work they've done."

Wolkoff said the new buildings will have a "60-foot high wall" for the artists to paint on. He anticipates beginning the demolition in early 2014.

The 5 Pointz is a massive canvass where "aerosol artists from around the globe paint colorful pieces on the walls of a 200,000-square-foot factory building," according to its website. The exhibit has been featured in several music videos and documentaries.

@5PointzNYC, the official Twitter handle for the exhibit, sent this out Tuesday: "5 Pointz is gone, painted white overnight by the owner...with police protection."

The exteriors walls of the warehouse chronicled decades of New York graffiti art.

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