Rare Muhammad Ali artwork is worth nearly $1 million at auction

A felt-tip boxing sketch of the late Muhammad Ali sold for more than $425,000 at a New York auction of his little-known works of art, some of which exceeded estimates many times over.

The sketch was called “Sting Like a Bee” and was drawn on paper in 1978.

It was the most sought-after work among more than 20 paintings, drawings and sketches by the former heavyweight champion that reflected Ali’s interest in religion, social justice and his own career.

It carried a pre-sale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.

“Ref, it fluttered like a butterfly and stinged like a bee!” reads the speech bubble of a boxer being knocked unconscious by an opponent whose arms are raised in victory.

Ali used the famous phrase to describe his boxing style.

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Bonhams auctioneers said Ali’s 26 artworks sold for a total of $945,524, more than three times the lowest value estimate.

“Sting Like A Bee” was bought by a British collector of Ali memorabilia, Bonhams said. The other buyers have not been identified.

Ali’s passion for art was little known but he liked to draw to relax after a fight or training.

Some of the works for sale were traditional nature paintings, while others were more personal cartoon-like sketches.

A 1979 red, white and blue canvas painting with the words “I Love You America” ​​sold for $150,000, while a 1967 felt-tip pen sketch comparing Islam to Christianity sold for 24 $000.

The former world heavyweight champion announced his conversion to Islam in 1964 after winning the title for the first time as Cassius Clay.

He died in 2016 aged 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Her paintings and drawings come from the collection of Rodney Hilton Brown, who worked with Ali on her art.

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Christopher S. Washington