Michigan Man Buys House Next To Ex-Wife And Erects Statue Giving Middle Finger Outside Her Window

statue_2738047bThere is an interesting nuisance case in Detroit where Alan Markovitz has erected an art piece in his backyard. It so happens to be lighted at night and fully visible when his ex-wife looks out of her windows next door. It is a large piece giving a middle finger salute.

The sculpture is almost 12 feet high.

Markovitz moved into the lakefront home next to his ex-wife and spent thousands on the art piece. What is interesting is that Markovitz is reported as saying that he is mad at the man who lived next door for having an affair with his ex-wife who also lives next door.

The case raises an interesting question of an aesthetic nuisance. Generally, such nuisances are rejected by the courts. Likewise, since we do not follow the English rule of “Ancient Lights,” we do not generally enforce a right to sunlight or views. However, the courts will enjoin “spite fences” or obstructions that are put up out of anger or malice. Here Markovitz has gone out of his way to confirm malice. However, this is an art piece and does not materially obstruct a view or sunlight with a fence or a wall. It clearly conveys an obscene gesture but it is also an artistic expression. Use of an obscenity statute would raise serious constitutional, free speech issues.

In Michigan, a private nuisance can be maintained if the plaintiffs can show a nontresspassory invasion of another’s interest in the private use and enjoyment of land if: “(1) the other has property rights and privileges attached to the use or enjoyment interfered with; (2) the invasion resulted in significant harm; (3) the actor’s conduct was the legal cause of the invasion; and (4) the invasion was either intentional and unreasonable or unintentional and otherwise actionable under the rules governing liability for negligent, reckless, or ultra hazardous conduct.” See Cloverleaf Car Co v Phillips Petroleum Co, 213 Mich. App. 186, 193; 540 N.W.2d 297 (1995). This still requires a showing of significant harm resulting from the defendant’s unreasonable interference with the use or enjoyment of the property. Adams v Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co, 237 Mich. App. 51, 67; 602 N.W.2d 215 (1999).

Markovitz would seem to have the better argument though his public statements could make it a closer case.

38 thoughts on “Michigan Man Buys House Next To Ex-Wife And Erects Statue Giving Middle Finger Outside Her Window

  1. The Jewish Daily Forward recent placed disgraced San Diego Mayor and MLB ballplayer, Bob Filner and Ryan Braun on their Shande List. I think Alan Markovitz is now up for consideration.

  2. If I recall he owns a number of strip clubs and nick this is St. Claire Shores if I recall….. The bubble of Detriot….. You might have seen it in Grand Torino…

    The stadium is in what they call Cork Town near the defunct Grand Terminal built in the style of Grand Central Station…..

  3. AY, Great info. Walt in Gran Torino lived in a blue collar neighborhood but I remember the last scene, w/ the Hmong kid driving the Gran Torino w/ Walt’s dog, driving near a lake w/ nice houses. I think Walt would have loved to have this statue on his front lawn.

  4. The old stadium had class but it was old….. The new owner of the Tigers…. Pizza, Pizza man needed new….and got it…. He also own the wings….

  5. I’m wondering if there is an HOA that might provide another avenue of relief for the ex-wife. HOAs can be very authoritarian.

  6. Nal,

    In that particular area there are no restrictions of things placed in your back yard….. Except through deed restriction….. Some of those houses have been there since the 20s…… And they are just as majestic today as they were then I am sure….. The owners keep then up….. Or a neighbor will buy it to keep the values steady….

  7. Several years ago there was a flap about middle eastern rich people buying mansions that had classic nude statues out front near the entrances. IIRC, it was Beverly Hills.

    The new owners painted the statues flesh color and…ahem…certain anatomical features rendered lifelike in graphic detail as well.

  8. OS, There’s an eclectic blog called Messy Nessy Chic. It has a piece about the concrete arrows built across the US circa 1920’s to guide air mail pilots on their routes.

  9. I don’t think the statues is obscene per se. The man is a jerk, but c’est la vie, I think he has a right to do it.

  10. There is no doubt that this guy is an idiot, but I believe he has the right to the so-called artwork. I think syrbal had the right idea. Two can play that game!

  11. Andy don’t they say art is in the eye of the beholder and he built it so to his eye it is art I guess, even though anger and lack of civility masquerading as ‘art’

  12. If I were the wife, I would remove the window, brick it over tastefully. Place a larger more beautiful window elsewhere, in a place that the ex husband’s spite sculptures wouldn be visable. Cheating on one’s spouse tends to create lasting animosity, generally best to divorce first, then get a new partner.

  13. And then I’d allow one of the Erectile Dysfunction manufacturers to use it in an ad campaign and recoup my costs. Free Speech and Free Markets for all!!!

  14. He is flipping her “The Herbie”. Is there anyone out there who lived in Saint Louis who is familiar with Flipping Somene The Herbie? And do you know the derivation?

  15. Shady Grady….

    Thanks….. I thought it looked like a house I had seen on the lake….. At st Claire shores….. Just by the point….but hey… Thanks..l

  16. It’s amazing how some individuals deal with divorce. Not to appear sexist, but I thought that single women out number single men at least 6 to 1 in the USA? He couldn’t find another ‘soul mate’?

  17. Yikes, so petty. Too bad he can’t just move on & try to be happy with someone else. Doesn’t seem like he could ever be happy there. I mean why the hell would he want to live near the people that hurt him & all the bad feelings connected to that place- it seems like he has not yet reached adulthood. Makes me think of a quote: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

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