What to Know
- The mural was defaced with yellow paint twice in the past week.
- The original artist returned to the scene and painted over the mural Wednesday to avoid further controversy.
- Visitors hoping to see the mural outside of Baby Blues BBQ in Venice Wednesday were disappointed to find it covered up.
Jonas Never, the popular street artist behind several iconic murals of athletes and celebrities throughout Los Angeles, was spotted doing something rare Wednesday: covering up his latest mural.
The mural, which depicts newly signed Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James with a background calling him "The King of LA," was vandalized early Wednesday morning for the second time since it was finished on July 5th. Never, who had already retouched the mural after it was defaced early Sunday morning, decided to take it down instead of having to deal with more vandals.
Never's work has typically drawn near-universal praise, especially for his murals of Anthony Bourdain and Chester Bennington after their respective suicides. He has also made murals of Lakers and Dodgers stars in the past, with virtually no backlash.
However, a vocal contingent of Lakers' fans reacted negatively to the latest mural because a contingent of Lakers' fans have not yet warmed to James joining the purple and gold after James was pitted as a rival to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
One such fan, Twitter user @BenOsaze, offered a $300 bounty to anyone who damaged the mural when it first went up. Two days later, yellow paint appeared on the mural scrawling messages like "LeFraud" and "We don't want you."
When another Twitter user took credit for the vandalism and asked for the bounty, @BenOsaze locked his twitter account, CBS Sports reported.
Never fixed up the mural soon after, painting over the graffiti and removing the "of" from the "King of LA" message in hopes the change would ease tensions.
However, the owner of Baby Blues BBQ in Venice, where the mural was located, said that someone splashed more yellow paint on the mural Tuesday night around midnight. The owner said Never came by the next morning and covered the mural with white paint to avoid any further trouble.
@BenOsaze unlocked his account and apologized via Twitter Wednesday afternoon, saying the original tweet was a joke and that he was "shocked that people took it so seriously" and "saddened it brought so much negativity to what was suppose [sic] to be a great moment for the Lakers fan base."
One passerby, however, was fine with the mural getting covered up when asked about it Wednesday.
"[LeBron] ain't no Kobe," the man said.
NBC4's Angie Crouch contributed to this report.