LONG ISLAND CITY — A mural of late Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy that went up last week in Queensbridge was vandalized twice over the weekend — once on Friday night and then again after the artists spent hours restoring it Sunday.
Jeff Henriquez and Eli "Eli-Eos" Lazare painted the mural of the hip-hop legend — born Albert Johnson, who died last month at the age of 42 — on the side of nonprofit Urban Upbound's building at 13th Street and 40th Avenue across the street from the Queensbridge Houses, which featured prominently in Mobb Deep's music.
But Friday night, just a day after the mural was completed, someone covered it in white paint, according to Lazare. The artists then spent about 15 hours fixing the piece Sunday, restoring it back to its original look.
THE RESURRECTION. The hood love is strong! 15 hours in one shot to bring back our fallen hip hop general. Big thanks to the homie @elementsofstyle_nyc for keeping things on point. A special thanks to my very good friend @djhotday who pulled up the truck and kept the lights on until the very last can. And to all the positive souls brothers and sisters djs tv types and local people. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sadly I expect my wall to get hit again. But regardless. The statement we made today represents the resilience of a community and a deep love for one man. Im honored to have been asked to do the piece. Now.. Lets keep this muthafucka movin... ✊🏽#prodigy #ripprodigy #queensbridge #newyork #infamous #streetart #urbanart #outdoorart #publicart #montanacans #tattoos #sprayart #spraypaint #realism #portrait #muralart #mural #jeffhenriquezart_ #elementsofstyle #graff #beautiful #stunning
"We tried to turn a negative situation into a positive one for the community," Lazare told DNAinfo New York in an email at the time.
But by Monday morning, the mural had been defaced again — this time splattered with red paint, according to the artist and a representative for Urban Upbound.
The piece has since been painted over in solid black, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit said.
Lazare said he has no plans to repaint the mural.
The head of Urban Upbound, which operates a number of anti-poverty services, called the vandalism "a tragedy."
"It's unfortunate that a tribute has become a tragedy in our neighborhood," Bishop Mitchell Taylor, Urban Upbound's founder, said in a statement.
An NYPD spokeswoman did not immediately have information on either incident.
Lazare said he doesn't know who was behind the vandalism.
"This is just something that we did out of love," the artist said, noting the mural was intended "for the community, and for fans globally, to commemorate Prodigy, his legacy, his contributions."
Lazare said he hopes the vandalism doesn't escalate into a bigger problem.
"There's nothing you can do. Things happen," he said. "It's not worth it."