In the months before developer Bruce Ratner closed the deal on his $4.9 billion plan to move the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn and construct high-rise buildings on the Atlantic Yards site, someone painted over a series of murals created by opponents of the project — and anti-Atlantic Yards activists claim that Ratner is at fault.

Mural painter Patti Hagan told the Atlantic Yards Report that the mystery re-painter — a man dressed in "chinos and a button down shirt" who "did not look anything like a guy who painted for a living" — buffed the long-standing protest signs just before Russian magnate and Nets buyer Mikhail Prokhorov visited New York. Hagan says she consulted with the Borough President's graffiti squad, the Mayor's graffiti squad and the local precinct, and none of the groups were responsible for the removal of the mural on Carlton Avenue between Dean and Pacific.

Before being painted, the murals — some of which read "GEHRY THY NAME IS EMINENT DOMAIN" and "SU CASA ES BRUCE CASA" — had been okayed by property owner and Atlantic Yards opponent Henry Weinstein. But the mystery re-painter didn't ask Weinstein's permission before buffing the wall with a coat of gray paint. Weinstein, who has resisted selling his land to Ratner, had this to say:

"I have not authorized anyone to remove The Community Messages that [the artists] worked so hard to create. This was so much more than a community message. The No Eminent Domain Abuse slogan painted on the roll down gate has been published and distributed in newspapers, magazines and TV both in the United States and Internationally. It is a violation of Our Constitutional Rights to Free Speech. It is so offensive that it has been obliterated, for the sake of some Russian Oligarch and his cronies not being offended. It is a disgrace."

Gothamist has emailed Forest City Ratner for comment and we'll update when we hear back.