NEW YORK, September 30 (Reuters) – A rare collection of sketches and paintings by American boxer Muhammad Ali – who loved to draw between fights – will be auctioned in New York next week.
The 24-piece collection, many of which are cartoonish and some signed, reflect Ali’s interest in religion and social justice, but there are also some that illustrate him in the ring.
“Ref, it floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee!” reads the bubble of a boxer knocked out by an opponent with his arms raised in victory.
The painting, titled âSting Like a Bee,â was made by Ali in 1978 while filming the historic âFreedom Roadâ miniseries he starred in, Bonhams auctioneers said. It is expected to reach $ 40,000 to $ 60,000 at the October 5 sale.
Bonhams said that Ali’s passion for drawing was little known, but that he liked to draw to relax after a fight or training.
âA lot of people are excited because no one knew he was an artist and no one knew about this treasure trove of artwork. So we’re seeing a lot of interest and enthusiasm,â said Helen Hall, director of popular culture. at Bonhams.
The works for sale are from the collection of Rodney Hilton Brown, who worked with Ali on his art.
The former heavyweight world champion, who announced his conversion to Islam in 1964 at the height of his career, died in 2016 at the age of 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
“The Hungry Children of Mississippi,” 1967, shows a character in shorts saying “I only wanted to fight to help you feed your poor black children.”
âThere’s one that refers to the LA and Newark race riots in ’65 and ’67,â Hall said. “One of the paintings is devoted to Islam. He had just converted. And then some of them have a lighter tone and relate to boxing.”
Other works include âAmerica: The Big Jailâ from 1967 and âWar in Americaâ which has a pre-sale estimate of $ 25,000 to $ 35,000.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Angela Moore, editing by Rosalba O’Brien
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