Rare drawings by boxing legend Muhammad Ali sell for nearly $1m

A rare collection of drawings, sketches and paintings by legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali has sold at auction for nearly $1m (£733,760).

 

About 26 art works were auctioned at Bonhams auction house in New York with the auction company stating that the most anticipated works, Sting Like a Bee, sold for $425,000 (£311,853), more than 10 times its pre-sale estimate.

 

Ali is one of the greatest ever athletes, activist and poet, but his artistic talents are less known.

 

During his lifetime he drew and painted as he was encouraged by his father who was a professional artist.

 

“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,” said Helen Hall, Bonhams Director of Popular Culture, before the sale.

 

The works were put up for auction by art collector and friend Rodney Hilton Brown, who said Ali drew his first three pictures for him after a fight in Boston in 1977. The total sale price of $945,524 (£693,788) was three times more than had been expected.

 

Sting Like a Bee was painted during the filming of Freedom Road in Mississippi in 1978 and is the only work to include a complete Muhammad Ali poem, Bonhams said.

 

 It says: “Ref! he did float like a butterfly and sting like a bee! Yes, if you were smart you run like me!” Ali often described his boxing style as floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.

 

Meanwhile, a 1979 red, white and blue painting on canvas, with the words “I Love You America,” sold for $150,000, and a 1967 sketch in felt pen comparing Islam to Christianity fetched $24,000.

 

Ali died in 2016 at the age of 74.