The spotlight of the auction was one sketch in felt pen — a 1978 work titled “Sting Like a Bee” — that bought for $425,312, far exceeding its pre-sale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.
It depicts a victorious Ali together with his arms above his head whereas stood over a defeated opponent, with the referee fleeing from the ring.
“Ref, he did float like a butterfly and sting like a bee!” reads the speech bubble above the downed fighter’s head. “Yes, when you have been sensible you run like me,” the referee says in response.
The sketch and its language are a nod to maybe Ali’s most well-known quote — “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, the fingers cannot hit what the eyes cannot see” — made when he was a precocious 22-year outdated about to tackle world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston.
The phrase was usually repeated to explain his model within the ring, and have become shorthand for the person who thought of himself “The Greatest” earlier than the remainder of the world cottoned on.
“To many, it might come as information to you that Ali was an artist all his life,” Bonhams mentioned.
“First nurtured by his father Cassius Clay Snr., knowledgeable artist, Ali continued to color and draw informally as he grew up, finally enlisting in artwork classes from sports activities artist LeRoy Neiman.
“Ali generally drew and painted these topics closest to his coronary heart: boxing, civil rights, world peace and humanitarianism.”
Another Ali work, a 1979 portray that includes the phrases “I Love You America” together with a pink coronary heart and the American flag, bought for $150,312.
A 3-time heavyweight world champion and broadly thought of the best boxer of all time, Ali died in 2016 after a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s illness.