By Nii B. Andrews.

Muhammad Ali, the sports and cultural icon, had a largely unappreciated talent as a visual artist.

He recalled that the only reason he was able to finish high school was because of his place on the boxing team; he only received satisfactory grades in art and gym.

Lot 53. Muhammad Ali, Let My People Go. Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000

Ali’s father was a professional artist with considerable expertise at creating church murals.

Ali continued to paint and draw informally as he grew up, eventually enlisting art lessons from sports artist LeRoy Neiman.

Boxing, civil rights, world peace and humanitarianism were the subjects that Ali addressed in his art.

Lot 36. Muhammad Ali, Sting Like A Bee. Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000. Courtesy Bonhams.

Rodney Hilton Brown built one of the largest private collections of original Ali artwork.

The auction house, Bonhams in New York on 5 October, will offer on sale for the first time, a comprehensive collection of rare, original paintings, drawings, and sketches by “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali, Under the Sun, (1979). Courtesy of RoGallery.

Included in the forthcoming sale is a bronze casting of Ali’s right “knockout” fist.

It was created in his hotel room at the Plaza Hotel in 1979 after he had won three World Heavyweight Championships and prior to his Larry Holmes fight in 1980.

Rodney Hilton Brown states, “It’s an exceptionally rare piece; until this point in time, Ali had been understandably so adverse to putting his prized fist into a mold that not even the Boxing Hall of Fame had been able to create one.”

Muhammad Ali, Guiding Light, (1979). Courtesy of RoGallery.
Muhammad Ali, Mosque II, (1979). Courtesy of Ro Gallery.
A cast bronze of Muhammad Ali’s right “knockout” fist, on composition plinth with bronze plaque engraved “Fist of Muhammad Ali” / After Winning 3 World Heavyweight Championships / Cast by his friend / Rodney Hilton Brown / New York City 1979; 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 x 6 1/4 in.

This bronze fist was one of six made in 1981 from the original plaster cast.

Provenance: From the Collection of Rodney Hilton Brown, formerly President of Hilton Fine Arts, Ltd., publisher of Muhammad Ali’s limited edition silkscreen prints, 1978.

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