Image via Getty/Raymond Boyd/Contributor
A well-known mural featuring the Notorious B.I.G. will likely be destroyed in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood. The reason? The man who owns the building wants to increase the price of rent.
According to DNAinfo, the two-story mural aptly titled "King of NY" is expected to come down as upcoming renovations take place. Samuel Berkowitz, who owns the building at Bedford Avenue and Quincy Street, has reportedly secured permits to place additional windows to the wall that features the Biggie piece. In order to make it happen, he said the mural must be removed.
"King of NY" was painted in 2015 by Naoufal "Rocko" Alaoui and Scott "Zimer" Zimmerman, members of the city’s art collective Spread Art NYC. After learning about the mural’s possible removal, the group attempted to stop any renovations that would affect the piece.
"Spread Art NYC, your humble community art organization has been working real hard to keep this mural up for the past year," members wrote on Instagram. "[The] landlord always calls us and claims that the neighbors are complaining about the mural and the crowds it attracts."
According to the Instagram post, the landlord said he wanted to add the windows to increase rent profit by $500. Spread Art NYC offered $5,000—which would be collected through donations—to stop the window installment; however, their offer was ultimately denied.
"At this point, there is nothing Spread Art NYC can do to save this mural. We will continue to serve our neighborhoods regardless," they wrote. "Community is our goal. We like to give back and we thought a Biggie mural at the corner of #bedfordandquincy was needed to keep the culture alive, to keep Brooklyn Alive."
It’s unclear when the renovations will take place. Berkowitz defended his decision during a phone interview with DNAinfo:
"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."
Brooklyn resident Nia Raquelle has since joined the fight to preserve the Biggie mural. On Thursday, she launched a petition to designate "King of NY" as a landmark, thus giving it more protection.
"It's bad enough there is an affordable rental crisis in the city but now the landlord wants to destroy the culture that makes Brooklyn special. However, if we make this building a landmark, we can preserve the mural," she wrote on the Change.org petition page. "By landmarking the building the landlord is unable to make any changes to the facade without permission from the Landmarks and Preservation Commission."
Raquelle hopes to receive at least 1,500 signatures so she can present the petition during a public hearing next month. As of press time, more than 1,300 people had signed their name.
"This mural is very important to not just Brooklyn, but to music," the petition read. "The slain rapper, Notorious B.I.G. is a symbol of Brooklyn, its history and the promise of hope for so many he inspired with his music. As the borough is currently in the midst of a mass gentrification and evolution, we still need to preserve the very things, specifically the art and culture that make Brooklyn, Brooklyn."
Spread Art NYC did not immediately respond to Complex’s request for comment.
Spread Art NYC on Instagram: “A few updates on "king Of NY" Mural: we just want everyone to know that Spread Art NYC, your humble community Art organization has been…” King Of NY Biggie MuralFollowasapfergrevolttvdiddyofficialspikeleetherealfaithevans483 likes6d
- spreadartnycA few updates on "king Of NY" Mural: we just want everyone to know that Spread Art NYC, your humble community Art organization has been working real hard to keep this mural up for the past year! Landlord always calls us and Claims that the neighbors are complaining about the mural and the crowds it attracts. About 4 months ago, he told us about the construction he will be doing which will damage the mural in the process. He will be opening Windows on the wall to increase rent profit by $500 according to them. Today Spread Art NYC offered $5000 (which we planned to gather from the community and the fans) not to open the windows. Unfortunately, that offer was declined and it was answered by a counteroffer of $1250 a month. At this point, there is nothing Spread Art NYC can do to save this mural. We will continue to serve our neighborhoods regardless!! Community is our goal, we like to give back and we thought A biggie mural at the corner of #bedfordandquincy was needed to keep the culture alive, to keep Brooklyn Alive. We always say, Brooklyn is Biggie and Biggie is Brooklyn. A landlord can NEVER change that! We want to thank everyone for the love! We promise, we GOT YOU!!!💪💯#spreadartnyc #20bigyears #bedstuy #bedfordstuyvesant #biggie #kingofny #livefrombedfordstuyvesant #spreadloveitsthebrooklynway
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- soft.curlzi don't even know what bklyn is anymore bc it's nothing similar to what i had growing up
- urmomhasaweewee@brianspitzer money is always more important than people's culture. 🙄 so upsetting.
- yellastud@djhellayella did u hear bout this ?
- kaiatimes@chancetherapper @chancetherapper Can you help in any way? @chancetherapper
- kaiatimesWhat's the address of the building? @spreadartnyc
- kay_leno@myFabolouslife @quietazmoney
- kay_leno@cthagod @djenvy can y'all talk about this on Monday? Even a donkey of the day for the landlord would help lol
- jay2thad$1250 a month? That's it? Ask Jayz or P.diddy for that shit, them niggas claim they got like 500+million
- rosyalvarez_@kissmeallova YESSS
- in_motion_graphics_I'm coming from Memphis to get this photo of the #kingofnyc
- perplexsquare@earling 😕
- earling"the neighbors are complaining" is a terrifying thing given the context @perplexsquare
- patdeezyrappers from brooklyn gotta come together and pay that just for the respect
- thereallynchmobThis land lord is a fuckin genius. He's playing all of you. Those apartments will always be rented. Renovated or not. Now he's Gona come up on an extra 1250 a month just to keep the mural up?! WHILE THE SPOTS ARE RENTED OUT! Congratulations Brooklyn, you just played yourself.
- theworldaccordingtokatUnbelievable. @96thsuspect
- anthonydavidatlAre you fuckers even from Brooklyn?
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