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Fate of Dorthea Rockburne's Sony HQ murals uncertain


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Two 30-by-30-feet murals painted by Dorthea Rockburne in 1993 have been sold along with the building they occupy, reports The Post. According to Rockburne, the paintings, which took two years to complete, may be deinstalled and discarded as the building’s new owner has ignored her attempts at communication. Any legal experts know if her work should be protected under VARA?

Read Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein’s report for The Post in partial below, or in full here.

Rockburne spent eight weeks working with a specially trained crew to paint the orange-hued conceptual works at the 550 Madison Ave. building. They are painted on wallboard treated with a thin layer of plaster and stand 30 feet by 30 feet.

The murals received rave reviews in the art world. The New Yorker in 1993 referred to the Sony building’s lobby and said the “cosmological frescoes suit it to perfection.”

But two years ago, Rockburne got a letter from Sony, putting her on notice that the building, and the murals, had been sold.

The Chetrit Group, headed by developer Joseph Chetrit, paid $1.1 billion for the property and filed plans to convert the upper floors to condos.

Rockburne says she has heard nothing from Chetrit about her murals.

“I have repeatedly written them for two years,” she said. “I had a lawyer write them.”