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Leroy Neiman Passes Away at 91

The most famous painter of sports scenes (along with Norman Rockwell) in American history passed away today. Leroy Neiman was known for setting the scene at nearly every major sporting event in the world, ranging from the Olympic Games to the Kentucky Derby to the Masters. His pictures are some of the most iconic in all of sports and Neiman even found time to paint a famous portrait of the Kentucky Wildcats. In 1977, Ashland Oil commissioned Neiman to come to Rupp Arena and paint a portrait of the Cats in a game against St Johns:

leroy

The above portrait was described this way by the great Oscar Combs in the Cat’s Pause back in 1977:

We’ll see just how popular Kentucky basketball really is during the next few months. A Kentucky oil firm has commissioned the famous Leroy Neiman to do a painting, illustrating the great Kentucky basketball tradition at Rupp Arena. There will be only 300 prints made and they will be sold at the modest price of $800 (that’s right, Eight Hundred Dollars) each. Proceeds will go to scholarship and such under the direction of the UK Alumni Association

That’s right Oscar…800 DOLLARS! Well now that iconic painting in its original form goes for around $4,500 online and is maybe the most famous painted image of UK basketball ever. Neiman was a legend, and his most famous portraits (“Arnie in the Rain”, my favorite, is below) showcase the best talents sports have ever seen, ranging from Ali to Secretariat. He was 91.

Article written by Matt Jones

18 Comments for Leroy Neiman Passes Away at 91



  1. Carl
    10:30 pm June 20, 2012 Permalink

    Too bad. I met him at a signing for his Ryder Cup prints when it was played at Vahalla.



  2. Fake Nate
    10:42 pm June 20, 2012 Permalink

    $226 ???!!?!??!!?

    Call back to the Sam Swope commercial that plays every 3 minutes during KSR on IHeartRadio.



  3. Bob
    10:45 pm June 20, 2012 Permalink

    “Well now that iconic painting in its original form goes for around $4,500 online”

    A painting in its “original form” is a one-of-a-kind thing. It would not go for “around” $4,500. It would have a fixed price. And if the prints were going for $800 in 1977, a price of the original painting of $4,500 would be awful. Do you mean that a print goes for $4,500? Do you know the difference?



  4. Luga78
    10:52 pm June 20, 2012 Permalink

    Why do the people who criticize continue to read the website. If everything is so bad or not good enough, go read the Card Chronicle or some other website.



  5. Economist
    10:59 pm June 20, 2012 Permalink

    $800 in 1977 is equal to over $3,100 in 2012 dollars, just using the rate of inflation. Not a huge differential. Using a median rate of appreciation, I imagine the painting is not worth much more now than in 1977. Just sayin.



  6. Caftan
    11:10 pm June 20, 2012 Permalink

    His work was featured on pawn stars earlier this week. He is sporting a very nice upside down Anthony Davis unibrow under his nose in the pic.



  7. Catfan
    11:24 pm June 20, 2012 Permalink

    Nice to see you guys blowin up with some national ads. I luv the ufc. No disrespect to boones butcher shop. I think they are great just glad to see local boys creeping on a come up which is well diserved with respect to advertising due to the site growing



  8. Hollywood Cat
    12:36 am June 21, 2012 Permalink

    My dad was an executive with ashland oil and i believe we have the original oil painting in our house. We’ve had the painting since the early 80’s when we lived in lexington. Love it. One of my favorite uk memorabilia pieces we have.



  9. BPsycho
    2:53 am June 21, 2012 Permalink

    Leroy Neiman was such a bad ***, you’d ask him what time it was was and he’d punch you in your ******* face.



  10. Bob
    7:29 am June 21, 2012 Permalink

    Economist – The $800 in 1977 was for a print (probably a serigraph) in an edition of 300. Matt then says the original painting costs $4,500 today. So, according to your post, if a print in an edition of 300 is worth $3,100 in today’s dollars (with no other appreciation), then the original painting would be much more than $4,500. Again, there’s a difference between a print and a painting. I figured it was obvious, but apparently not. Just sayin.



  11. PJWB
    8:05 am June 21, 2012 Permalink

    The original of UK Basketball Game vs. St. John’s is on display at UK Art Museum.



  12. Jonsie
    8:28 am June 21, 2012 Permalink

    2,1



  13. Jax Teller
    8:31 am June 21, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t know squat about paintings, but I know an epic mustache when I see one. I’m starting to grow that today, no more shaving for me.



  14. minton
    8:32 am June 21, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t remember Rupp Arena being green, yellow, orange, blue, red, pink, teal, purple and white.



  15. Economist
    11:36 am June 21, 2012 Permalink

    Bob, the present 2012 value of the original painting is known at $4,500. I don’t know what a print is worth today, I am just making the observation that a print in 1977 cost $3,100 (in 2012 dollars). So the $3,100 for a print in 1977 was not that cheap, as the post implies, and furthermore the original itself is worth just $1,400 more. $4,500 in 2012 dollars versus $3,100 in 2012 dollars is not that great a disparity, nor is $3,100 pocket change. No big deal, just an observation. Last word is yours.



  16. Bob
    11:52 am June 21, 2012 Permalink

    Economist – “the present 2012 value of the original painting is known at $4,500”

    Citation, please? I think someone above mentioned that the painting hangs in the UK Art Museum and I doubt that Matt Jones has access to the insurance value of the painting. My humble guess is that Matt Jones misspoke and instead, the value of one of the prints is $4,500 today. The painting would be valued at least 10x as much. But I am certain you are as smart about the art market as you are about economics.



  17. Economist
    1:50 pm June 21, 2012 Permalink

    My source for that comment is your post, in which you quote Matt as the authority: “Matt then says the original painting costs $4,500 today.” If Matt’s statement is indeed a mis-statement and your incorporation of it is likewise incorrect, then that part of the conclusion would likely therefore be incorrect as well. Congratulations.

    The value of $800 in 1977 is still a much-less breathtaking $3,100. Sorry you took it personally.



  18. Bob
    2:37 pm June 21, 2012 Permalink

    From my original comment:

    “Well now that iconic painting in its original form goes for around $4,500 online”
    A painting in its “original form” is a one-of-a-kind thing. It would not go for “around” $4,500… Do you mean that a print goes for $4,500?

    I understand now why your name is “Economist” and not “Reading Comprehesionist.”

    I didn’t take it personally. I just hate to see people be so dumb (you and Mr. Jones). I know this is the Internets, I should expect this. Still, it remains shocking to me.