Muhammad Ali is usually regarded as the greatest boxer of all time, but did you know he was also an artist? Back in the 1970s, Ali would often make sketches and paintings that were satirical of his own battles. A dozen of these paintings were recently auctioned off at Bonhams for a total of $945,500.
Among the many fascinating works to be auctioned, Ali’s Sting Like a Bee (1978) sold for $425,000 USD to a British collector, more than double its starting price of $40,000 USD. A speech bubble hangs above Ali’s vanquished opponent, who mumbles, “Ref, he did float like a butterfly and sting like a bee!,” to which the referee, who is seen exiting the ring, responds, “Yes, if you were smart, you run like me!”
The sales take place at a time when Bonhams is expanding its art portfolio from historical sporting figures. Although the value of such artwork has historically ranged from $500 to $1,000 USD, Robert Rogal, director of New York’s RoGallery, stated in a previous interview that “the images that were created by these icons, estates today are very collectible.”