The mural was painted by students from the Academy of Art University on the side of a building at 150 Hayes St. near Polk Street.
According to school spokesperson Susan Toland, painting began in January. The project was well underway when Simpson was killed while racing. So the artist decided to dedicate the project to him.
"He passed doing what he loved, and there's no better way to honor him than doing what we love doing every day," student Raquel Lupica said. "When we finally saw it and got all the information it was a lot to take in but it was the most amazing thing I'm sure any of us have done."
The project finished in late May. Toland says a line of text was added to the mural in honor of Simpson after his death. This is the largest mural the school has ever produced.
The 116-by-50-foot artwork of America's Cup boats racing on the Bay was created by 18 students in a mural class in the Academy of Art University's School of Fine Art, according to Toland.
She said the students researched the boats for accuracy in the mural and completed the painting on the side of the school's Hayes Street building by the end of the semester.
Wednesday's ceremony was expected to include America's Cup Event Authority CEO Stephen Barclay, members of the Artemis Racing team, the Academy of Art students and Simpson's family.
A friend of Simpson who attended the ceremony told ABC7 News he was very touched by the warmth of the city.
Racing in the America's Cup Finals between Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand begins on the Bay this Saturday.
(ABC7 News reporter Amy Hollyfield contributed to this report)