Feb. 3, 2021 By Christian Murray
Three people altered the marquee sign at the shuttered Sunnyside movie theater early Sunday morning and the landlord has released a video to the Queens Post of the perpetrators.
The prominent Queens Boulevard sign was changed by three suspects who were taking aim at John Ciafone, the owner of the building.
“Death by Speculation, Starring Limpdick Landlord,” the marquee sign reads, which went up at the vacant Center Cinemas, located at 42-17 Queens Blvd.
The video shows three people—equipped with a ladder and yellow safety vests–changing the sign at around 4 a.m. Sunday morning.
Ciafone was alerted to the signage on Sunday afternoon and was taken aback.
“These people are cowards,” Ciafone said. “They did it early in the morning when no one could see.”
He speculated that the perpetrators were part of an activist group. “They are socialists—no, make that communists—who are against development.”
Ciafone has been subject to criticism since he bought the property off Dime Savings Bank in 2012 and decided that he wanted to develop the property.
To that end, he did not renew the lease of Center Cinemas, which closed in January 2015.
The closure of the old theater was controversial. Residents put together a petition and held a rally outside the theater as they tried to keep it open.
The property was also occupied by PJ Horgan’s Pub and a local dentist when Ciafone bought it. The operators of both were informed their lease would not be renewed and shut about six years ago.
Today, the storefronts remain vacant and the property is undeveloped.
Ciafone, who still plans to develop the site, said the incident Sunday was “mind-boggling,” and said the act was criminal.
“This was very organized, professionally done. They even had the special lettering designed for cinema,” Ciafone said. “You don’t get those letters from Home Depot.”
“I take this seriously and I am going to prosecute. People should not be defacing other people’s property.”