Little-known artwork by boxing legend Muhammad Ali fetch nearly $ 1 million at auction

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Although Muhammad Ali has been dead for five years, he still surprises the world. On Tuesday, 28 works of art by the legendary boxer were auctioned off – and they fetched nearly $ 1 million.

Ali’s artistic career, which surprises many, is due in part to his old friend Rodney Hilton Brown.

“I had taken over a failing art gallery in Soho, and was looking for a world-famous figure who could paint paintings that we could make limited edition prints and sell,” Brown said.

No one was taller in the mid-1960s than Ali. Brown approached him and Ali was up for it.

“He never claimed to be a great artist,” Brown recalls. “He knew he was the greatest boxer in the world, but when it came to art he said to me, ‘I paint pictures with meanings.'”

Two dozen works by Ali, auctioned on Tuesday, reflect what the champion thought, not only about boxing, but also about religion, war and social justice.

“I think the thing about these works is that the subject matter is all he cared about,” said Helen Hall, who works with the auction house that ran the “Who Knew?” collection. “He was drawing his boxing matches and he refers to Islam, refers to the race riots that happened in the 60s. So these are personal jobs – which makes them so – well, when I opened the box for the first time and saw them in the flesh, I got goose bumps. ”

The artwork has fetched a high price. All but two of the 28 listed paintings sold on Tuesday, for a total of $ 945,524, the auction house told CBS News. “Sting Like a Bee,” which depicts him in the ring surrounded by fans, sold for $ 425,312 on his own.

Ali learned to paint from his father, Cassius Clay Sr., according to the auction house. The company said Ali painted and drew “informally” when he was young, before taking lessons from LeRoy Neiman.

Ali was a three-time heavyweight boxing world champion and a cultural icon. When he retired from the sport at 39, he had a professional record of 56 wins and five losses. He died in 2016 at the age of 74.

A wide range of shine – worthy of the “greatest”.

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