Because The Rent…Brooklyn Landlord Wants Biggie Mural Removed

It’s no secret that there are all kinds of changes happening around New York City. Neighborhoods all over the five boroughs are seeing these changes directly. From new condos on every block to increases in apartment rental costs, residents are feeling the pain. Gentrification is to blame and the people are not happy. People are being pushed out and the culture is being replaced on a daily. Brooklyn has been feeling the effects of gentrification for years and its coming for another piece of hip hop culture. The “King of NY” Notorious B.I.G. mural is allegedly on the chopping block thanks to building landlord Samuel Berkowitz.

Allegedly, Berkowitz is looking to renovate the building so that he can increase the rent by $500. In order to do that, he needs to install additional windows on the wall that features the famed Bed-Stuy mural. That means, the mural would have to be removed. Spread Art NYC had the mural done back in 2015 by Zimer (Scott Zimmerman) and Rocko (Naoufal Alaoui) and is doing what it can to help save the piece. Spread Art NYC offered up 5Gs to stop the process but the landlord is not trying to hear it. As it stands, a permit for the windows has already been secured which means the mural will most likely go.

Aside from Berkowitz wanting to collect more money, it seems the mural has been causing a lot of crowds and traffic for residents in the building and they’ve been calling to complain. While this mural is an important part of hip hop culture and Brooklyn, Berkowitz could care less. In a phone interview, he made his feelings quite clear. “Let me rephrase the question: Why should I keep it?” he said. “I don’t even see the point of the discussion. I could demolish the building if I wanted to, I don’t need no permission from anyone except the DOB.” He kind of has a point because it is his building and he can do what he wants. His concern for the culture or anything that might be important to the neighborhood is not on his agenda. That’s nothing new.

There are a few interventions in the works to help keep the mural in place. One of them is a petition to landmark the building. This makes any changes to the facade more difficult as owners would need permission from the Landmarks and Preservation Commission. This is playing out as we speak so heading over to Bedford and Quincy to see it (if you haven’t already seen it) is highly suggested. We’ve seen this happen to a lot of cultural and iconic spots in NYC. Remember the demolition of 5 Pointz in Long Island City for some condos? Follow Spread Art NYC on Instagram to stay on top of what’s happening.

**UPDATE: The mural gets to stay! Shout out to all the people who helped make this happen…especially Mr. Berkowitz for realizing the importance of this mural. 

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