Art works by Muhammad
Ali, the legendary boxer, activist and poet, went under the hammer at Bonhams
auction house in New York recently and sold for nearly $1 million. “Sting Like a
Bee”, one of the most anticipated works sold for $425,000, more than 10 times
its pre-sale estimate.

According to Bonhams,
Muhammad Ali, an American icon for generations, drew and painted all his life
and was encouraged by his father who was a professional artist. Muhammad Ali
even took art lessons from sports artist LeRoy Neiman.

Ahead of the
auction, Helen Hall, Bonhams Director of Popular Culture, said: “Muhammad Ali
was a cultural icon who defined a generation. His artwork depicts those
subjects close to his heart: Boxing, Civil Rights, Religion and World Peace and

Muhammad Ali’s art
works were put on auction by art collector and friend Rodney Hilton Brown. Brown
told the BBC that Muhammad Ali drew his first three pictures for him after a
fight in Boston in 1977.

Ali’s “Sting Like
a Bee” was painted during the filming of “Freedom Road in Mississippi” in 1978.
The painting is the only artwork by Muhammad Ali that features a complete poem
by him.

“Ref! he did float
like a butterfly and sting like a bee! Yes, if you were smart you run like me!”
features in the artwork, says Bonham. Ali has often described his artwork as floating
like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.

Muhammad Ali was
one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th Century. Born in Louisville,
Kentucky, Ali became one of the most successful boxers in American history. Ali’s
actions as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam war made him an icon of
American counterculture. Ali was also extremely vocal on issues around race and
discrimination in the US.

Muhammad Ali died
in 2016 at the age of 74, decades after developing Parkinson’s, a degenerative
brain disease.