He shook up the art world!
A rare collection of drawings by boxing icon Muhammad Ali just sold for almost $1M, the BBC reports. Many know Ali’s legacy as one of the greatest athletes, a very vocal activist, and a beautiful poet. However, very little is known of his artistic talents. Recently, Ali’s rare collection of 26 drawings, sketches, and paintings were just sold at auction for nearly $1M, three times more than what was expected.
Bonhams in New York hosted the auction. The organizers noted that Ali had drawn and painted his entire life. He was inspired by his father, a professional artist, and later took lessons from sports artist LeRoy Neiman. The collection was put up for auction by art collector and friend Rodney Hilton Brown. Ali allegedly drew his first three pictures for Brown after a fight in 1977 in Boston.
“Muhammad Ali was a cultural icon who defined a generation. His artwork depicts those subjects close to his heart: Boxing, Civil Rights, Religion and World Peace and Humanitarianism,” Helen Hall, director of popular culture at Bonhams, said.
One of his most anticipated works, “Sting Like a Bee,” was painted during the filming of Freedom Road in Mississippi in 1978. It is the only work to include a complete Muhammad Ali Poem which reads: “Ref! he did float like a butterfly and sting like a bee! Yes, if you were smart, you run like me!” The painting sold for $425,000, more than 10 times its original pre-sale estimate.
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There was also a 1979 red, white, and blue painting on canvas, with the words “I Love You America,” that sold for $150,000 and a 1967 felt pen sketch comparing Islam to Christianity that went for $24,000. The total sale price of Ali’s works was $945,524.
The boxing legend passed away in 2016 at the age of 74 after battling the degenerative brain disease Parkinson’s for decades.
Rest in power, Champ! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Associated Press