L.A. Art Machine Sues AEG Over $100,000 of Destroyed Street Art

By - Thursday, November 17th, 2011

L.A. Art Machine, a community-based arts organization, and aerosol artists, Mear One, Chor Boogie, and Shark Toof, have filed a lawsuit against Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and the Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. Live, owned by AEG. They claim AEG is responsible for destroying $100,000 of their artwork that was on display to promote a multi-million dollar penthouse suite on the 51st floor of the Ritz-Carlton Residences. The murals were part of an event including artwork by Shepard Fairey and David LaChapelle. After the event AEG requested that the murals remain in the space to impress prospective buyers. Ultimately, instead of being returned, the works were dismantled and discarded, unbeknownst to L.A. Art Machine and the artists. “What AEG did was in violation not only of my clients’ economic rights, but a violation of their moral rights as defined by federal and state law,” explained Mr. Zohar. The Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) and the California Art Preservation Act (CAPA) protect the rights of artists and forbid the desecration, alteration or destruction of works of art. These renowned artists had agreed to show their artwork at the Ritz-Carlton Residences to help AEG attract affluent potential clientele to their vacant, multi-million dollar condos. Yet in return, their valuable art was coldly destroyed,” said Daniel Y. Zohar the attorney representing the artists and the L.A. Art Machine. “Corporate apathy toward art and artists is not that surprising,” said Bryson Strauss, director of the L.A. Art Machine. “In this case, we all knew that Ritz-Carlton had commercial interests, but we initially took their excitement about this artwork, the artists, and the event as being genuine. However, it appears that when their 9 million dollar penthouse didn’t sell, corporate priorities shifted and they showed no real appreciation for the importance and value of these pieces. The loss of nearly 90 feet of murals by world-class artists is a tragedy. As a person who has committed his life to art and artists, I can’t get my head around the indifference.”

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