Christie’s is hoping for a knockout at its November sales of post-war and contemporary art, where it will offer Andy Warhol
’s famed “Athletes” series (1977–79), featuring sports giants like Muhammad Ali, Dorothy Hamill, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The works come from the collection of the late Richard L. Weisman. Additional paintings, drawings, and sculptures from his collection will be sold in other Christie’s sales through 2020; the auction house expects sales of Weisman works to bring in over $15 million this year alone.
Warhol created the series of athlete portraits at the behest of Weisman himself, using a Polaroid Big Shot Camera and translating the photographs to acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas. The images reflected the commercialization of sports, and went on to appear in advertisements for sportswear, cars, and even breakfast cereals. Most of the “Athletes”paintings are estimated to sell in the $150,000 to $600,000 range, though the portrait Muhammad Ali is expected to fetch between $4 million and $6 million.