Richard Weisman, the son of noted Los Angeles collectors Frederick and Marcia Weisman, commissioned Andy Warhol to do a series of portraits of sports stars in the late 1970s. Christie’s will be selling Weisman’s $15m art collection—including works by Norman Rockwell, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, James Rosenquist and Mel Ramos—through Christie’s sales in New York this fall in the categories of Post-War & Contemporary Art, American Art, and Latin American Art, as well as an online-only sale of Picasso Ceramics. Additional sales in 2020 will offer works in the categories of Modern British Art and Photographs. In the November sales, the ten-lot consignment of the Warhol portraits will appear.
Here’s Christie’s release:
Andy Warhol’s Athletes will be sold in Christie’s November sales. They are multi-colored 40 x 40-inch acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas portraits that depict the most iconic sports stars of the 1970s. Being among the inner circle of Warhol’s Factory, Richard Weisman knew the artist well when he approached him to produce Athletes as a series of paintings completed between 1977 and 1979.|
The series features images of Muhammad Ali (boxing, estimate $4,000,000 – 6,000,000), Chris Evert (tennis, estimate: $250,000 – 350,000), Jack Nicklaus (golf, estimate: $200,000 – 300,000), Tom Seaver (baseball, $150,000 – 250,000), Willie Shoemaker (horse racing, $250,000 – 350,000), Dorothy Hamill (figure skating, estimate: $250,000 – 350,000), Pelé(soccer, estimate: $400,000 – 600,000), OJ Simpson (football, estimate: $250,000 – 350,000),Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (basketball, estimate: $300,000 – 500,000), and Vitas Gerulaitis (tennis, estimate:$200,000 – 300,000).
“I chose the sports stars,” Weisman noted of his role in selecting the sports stars that would be featured. “Andy didn’t really know the difference between a football and a golf ball.” Using his Polaroid Big Shot camera, Warhol took each of the photographs himself. Eventually, these works appeared in magazines and billboards across the nation promoting everything from sportswear to cars and breakfast cereals. “The sports stars of today are the movie stars of yesterday,” Warhol later noted.