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Turns out Muhammad Ali was also a $1M contemporary artist

Muhammad Ali's art in a frame.
(Image credit: Muhammad Ali/Bonhams/OnlyGFX/Future)

Nearly everyone knows of Muhammad Ali and his incredibly successful boxing career, but it may come as a surprise to discover that Ali was an artist. The boxer's art has recently fetched a handsome amount of money at auction. 

The floating, stinging cultural icon is known for his boxing, activism and poetry, but perhaps less known for his artistic talents. However, 26 of his rare artworks came up for auction recently and have sold for nearly $1m. Ali used a range of paints, pencils, pastels and felt pens to create his colourful collection. If you fancy having a go at creating your own art, make sure you check out our guide on all the art supplies you need to start. 

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Artwork by Muhammad Ali.

'Sting Like a Bee' sold for $425,312 (Image credit: Bonhams/Muhammad Ali)
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Artwork by Muhammad Ali.

'I Love You America' sold for $150,312 (Image credit: Bonhams/Muhammad Ali)
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A drawing of an aeroplane by Muhammad Ali.

'Rocket Ship' sold for $9,562 (Image credit: Bonhams/Muhammad Ali)
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Artwork by Muhammad Ali.

'Sunset with Tree of Life' sold for $9,562 (Image credit: Bonhams/Muhammad Ali)
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Artwork by Muhammad Ali.

'Jet Plane Under The Sun' sold for $6,120 (Image credit: Bonhams/Muhammad Ali)
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Artwork by Muhammad Ali.

'The Temporary Champion' sold for $9,562 (Image credit: Bonhams/Muhammad Ali)
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Artwork by Muhammad Ali.

'Mosque II' sold for $14,662 (Image credit: Bonhams/Muhammad Ali)
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Artwork by Muhammad Ali.

'Let My People Go' sold for $72,812 (Image credit: Bonhams/Muhammad Ali)
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Artwork by Muhammad Ali.

'Babe, Car and Black Star' sold for $15,300 (Image credit: Bonhams/Muhammad Ali)
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Artwork by Muhammad Ali.

'Guiding Light' sold for $12,750 (Image credit: Bonhams/Muhammad Ali)

Altogether the collection of works sold for $945,524, which was three times more than the valuers had expected. The piece titled 'Sting like a Bee' (seen above) fetched the most money in the auction, being sold for a whopping $425,312. Other pieces such as 'I love America' sold for $150,312, and 'The Crowd' sold for $24,687.

According to auction house Bonhams, Ali created art all his life after being encouraged by his father, who was a professional artist. Later in life, Ali enlisted sports artist LeRoy Neiman as his art teacher. But it was friend and collaborator, Rodney Hilton Brown who went on to build the largest private collections of Ali's art, and even cast the boxer's fist in bronze while in a hotel room on the night of Ali's third heavyweight championship win. 

It seems as though Ali's secret art career has surprised many of us, and people have taken to Twitter and Instagram to respond to the boxer's art. Surprised fans responded to Bonhams' Instagram post of Ali's art. Most of the Instagrammers commenting on the post were pleasantly surprised with one user commenting "Love the #muhammadali pieces," and another commenting, "I wish I could afford to buy, especially the 2nd picture [Sting Like A Bee]!" 

But others were not as impressed – one user commented, "my friend's 10 yr old daughter paints way better!" and another asked, "Was he 4 when he made those?" 

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It seems as though the internet is just as surprised about Ali's art career as we are, but we love the pieces 'Babe, Car and Black Star' and 'I Love America' and the combination of naivety and vibrant colours in his work make this collection incredibly endearing.

If you want to start creating your own art, have a look at our top painting tips for beginners, or check out our brilliant roundup of the best drawing tutorials

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Amelia Bamsey

Amelia Bamsey is the Staff Writer for Creative Bloq. Cornish born-and-bred, Amelia has a passion for all things art, design, photography and music. 

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