LeRoy Neiman Foundation makes donation of artwork to The Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville on what would have been his 75th birthday.January 18, 2017
LeRoy Neiman Foundation Announces Gift to Muhammad Ali Center on January 17, 2017.
In commemoration of what would be Muhammad Ali’s 75th birthday, The LeRoy Neiman Foundation is pleased to announce an honorary gift to the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The gift of 21 works of art exceed half a million dollars in value.
This donation includes the final commitment of Athlete of the Century (2000)—a large Neiman painting of Ali made in celebration of the boxer, on loan to the center since its opening in 2005—as well as nineteen additional works. These works constitute a selection of Ali’s original drawings, two pieces from Ali’s father (Cassius Clay, Sr.), a sketch by the boxer’s former wife (Belinda Boyd), and a drawing done in combination of Ali and a friend.
The Foundation sees this contribution as not only a remembrance of the figures’ near fifty-year friendship—Neiman met the boxer in 1962 at Nicholas Arena (a chance encounter leading to the artist’s chronicling of the athlete’s activity, through hundreds of paintings and sketches, as well teaching the boxer how to draw)— but also aunique opportunity to shed light on Ali’s lesser known creative endeavors.
Additionally, a large charcoal on paper by LeRoy Neiman was added as a surprise donation at the press conference. Black Narcissus was created in 1973 and originally travelled to the Ali Center for an show in the Ina B. Bond gallery in 2017. This was given to further the collection of images by Neiman of his great friend Ali.
Commenting on Athlete of the Century, Neiman once said, “All of my experiences and observations of Ali are summed up in this portrait. This painting is for me the quintessential, colorful, confident Ali. It shows his fighting face, with that theatrical flair that […] extended […] far beyond the boxing ring.”