Artist Leroy Neiman's legacy expected to impact auction markets
How will the death of US artist Leroy Nieman shape the legacy of his artworks at auction?
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Thursday 21 June 2012
Demand for Leroy Neiman's artworks is expected to soar following the news that the painter has died, aged 91.
His bold, colourful brushstrokes remain instantly recognisable to those even with the most passing interest in the art world.
Arguably the most commercially successful artist ever produced by the US, Neiman is perhaps best known for his sporting works. He was the official artist at five Olympic Games, while many of his most famous pieces depicted boxing greats, including several of Muhammad Ali.
The superbly moustachioed Neiman sketched at the Super Bowl, the Grand National horse race and the Cannes Film Festival.
He also depicted the Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer world chess championship in 1972.
Sports writer Nick Seitz once said that Neiman "has the journalistic talent, as well as the artistic ability, to convey the essence of a game or contestant with great impact, from the Kentucky Derby to Wilt Chamberlain, from the America's Cup to Muhammad Ali, from the Super Bowl to Bobby Hull."
His paintings from the Man at His Leisure series, which appeared in Playboy magazine for more than 15 years, have traditionally achieved among the greatest sums at auction. His 1969 Le Mans, for example, sold for $107,550 at Christie's in 2003, while a 1971 depiction of a sale at Sotheby's sold at its rival auctioneer for $83,650, also in 2003.
We anticipate that Neiman's death will considerably heighten the collecting public's interest in the painter, as has been seen with artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat. Neiman was a prolific painter, but such is the clamour for the now finite number of pieces we anticipate prices will push skyward, despite the ubiquity of the works.
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