The exterior blue walls of San Francisco’s oldest gay bar, Stud, have been decorated with colored murals created in 2017 during Pride Week for three years. Against the backdrop of these frescoes, bar visitors took pictures with their mobile phones.
But in May of this year, the bar went out of business, and its new owners changed the “non-standard” orientation of their establishment. The frescoes turned out to be “unsuitable” for them, and they first whitened them, and then repainted the entire building in cream.
Now six artists, citing the Fine Arts Rights Act (VARA), have filed a lawsuit against the new owner of the building that houses the bar, named City Commercial Investments. In the lawsuit, the defendant is accused of “negligent attitude towards property, willful destruction of works of art and violation of the rights of inviolability and authorship.” The law provides for compensation of up to $ 150,000 for each piece of art destroyed.
“Most people have never heard of the VARA since 1990,” said Amy Edler, a professor of law at New York University. “It seems to them incompatible with the deep-rooted belief that if you own something, you can do whatever you want with it. But this is not so. “
Art does not last forever