Famed sports painter LeRoy Neiman dead at 91

Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:30am EDT
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By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - LeRoy Neiman, whose distinctive, vibrantly colored paintings of sports figures and athletic events made him as famous as many of the athletes he drew, died on Wednesday at age 91.

Neiman, a showman known for his handlebar mustache, sometimes painted live on television during major events such as the Olympics and the Super Bowl, helping make him one of the world's most commercially successful contemporary artists.

Among his subjects were boxing's Muhammad Ali, former New York Jets football star Joe Namath and baseball greats Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.

Neiman had just published his memoirs, "All Told," which came out days before his 91st birthday on June 8.

"He had a happy birthday. He was so happy to see his memoir published," said Gail Parenteau, his publicist.

She said he died at Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan of natural causes. He had been hospitalized there in 2010 with vascular problems that required life-saving surgery to remove his right leg above the knee, she said.

By coincidence, his latest work - a multicolored golf ball 4 feet in diameter and completed in April - went on display in Chicago on Wednesday, said his archivist, Tara Zabor.

Neiman was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 8, 1921, and was of Turkish and Swedish descent "as near as I can figure out," according to his official website.   Continued...

Undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins (R) holds up a portrait of himself painted by artist LeRoy Neiman (L) during a post-fight press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada September 18, 2004. REUTERS/Ethan Miller SM/DL