Graffiti In Its Glory: New York City Real Estate Benefits From Street Art
Graffiti — the term typically used to describe “tagging” — can be unsightly. Its close cousin street art, however, is increasingly popular in cities around the world, with Banksy currently making
headlines for his new art in Paris. The New York City real estate market is capitalizing on the momentum.
Murals, wheatpaste (or paper-mache) posters and other mediums not only attract positive attention to properties, but they also keep surfaces safe from tagging.
“Blank walls and blank surfaces will always get tagged, [but] I knew from experience that if you cover a surface in some amazing artwork, most people will respect that and not tag it,” remarks a local agent.
This trend is so popular that it has been seen that people will stop as they drive down the street and ask, “What’s going on here? This is amazing!”
The graffiti as art is so popular in the five boroughs that Bushwick alone has several professional walking tours to showcase murals around the neighborhood, including Street Art Walk and Free Tours By Foot.
It’s seen as a testament to New York City history, says another local broker.
Artists all over Manhattan are being commissioned to give spaces “that extra effect in terms of drawing people in,” through graffiti type wall murals.
The stone building at 190 Bowery, on the corner of Spring Street in Lower Manhattan, is decorated with decades of artwork, so much so that, “it’s become a piece of pop culture from the ’80s.” People “like to see a little bit of expression. It kind of makes things a little less mundane” remarks a local artist.
One property owner said a visit from a famous street artist is the ultimate publicity.
Jared Epstein, vice president of Aurora Capital Associates, which owns several buildings in the Meatpacking District and SoHo, got to meet Mr. Brainwash when he caught the famous French artist working on 21-27 Ninth Ave. back in 2009.
“Usually I would be upset [about graffiti], but this stuff is actually pretty cool, and I think it’s great for attracting interest in the building, so we allowed him to do it,” Epstein said.
Mr. Brainwash chose the Aurora property for some of his most iconic works — including his takes on Madonna, Marilyn Monroe and Angelina Jolie, along with his image of Albert Einstein holding a sign stating, “Love Is The Answer.”
When Aurora redeveloped the building in 2010, Mr. Brainwash stopped by to put his Alfred Hitchcock-style Mother’s Day image on a
wooden board outside the construction site. The design attracted so much attention that Anne Hathaway’s husband, Adam Shulman, stole one.
Although Shulman later returned the board after receiving public scrutiny, the press from the fiasco was good for the property, Epstein said.
The fact is, “you’re lucky if you get a street artist that finds your property iconic enough for their art,” he said. “They’re looking for locations that are gritty, cool, in a great neighborhood with a lot of eyeballs.”