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Painters continue to paint the rest of the Nissan dealership where a mural of Lake Merritt had been since 1988 on 27th Street at Webster Street on Auto Row in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 13, 2013. The artist, Dan Fontes, is upset. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

OAKLAND -- Lots of murals get tagged, but not too many completely vanish under a coat of off-white paint.

Even though Dan Fontes had learned to keep a stiff upper lip as vandals repeatedly defaced his quarter-century-old, 98-foot-long ode to Lake Merritt at 27th Street and Broadway, he was floored to drive past earlier this week and find it completely painted over.

"I was just like, 'Oh my god, it's completely gone,'" he said.

The mural graced the side of Nissan of Oakland along 27th Street.

Adrees Sharza, the dealership's senior sales manager, said the mural had been so vandalized that it had become an eyesore. "Considering all the tags on it and all the graffiti, it just wasn't proper," he said.

Fontes, 63, grew up next to the lake and spent the better part of 1986 and 1987 painting a lakeside scene on what was then the side of a Buick dealership.

The mural, best known for its puffy clouds reflected in the lake's blue water, cost more than $100,000 to paint and 18 months to obtain city permits and raise funds.

It stood tall and proud for more than two decades. However, taggers began taking aim at it over the past few years. One vandal spray-painted writing near the top of the mural, and another obliterated the bottom six feet with beige spray paint.

"To me, it was grand theft," Fontes said. "When you take out a mural that is over $100,000 worth of work, I don't see that as any different as taking a jackhammer to a Lamborghini."


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Fontes, who lives in San Rafael, had started an online campaign to raise money to repair the mural. Now he's trying to find out if the property owner might be open to a sequel. "I'd like to repaint it," he said.

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.