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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Pity the entertainers and the people who live near him. So, no restrictions on these things yet? Well there outta be….You stay classy Markovitz!

  4. Get over it already dude. Glad they are taking this up in the courts, interesting piece of art (?) really… It’s no wonder they’re divorced!

  5. 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.

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

  8. 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….

  9. 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.

  10. 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…..

  11. 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.

  12. Wow, That doesn’t look like houses in Detroit I saw going to baseball games @ Tiger’s Stadium or Comerica!

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