LeRoy Neiman baseball art sells for $491,748

ULA ILNYTZKY, Associated Press
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FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2007, file photo, artist LeRoy Neiman poses in his studio in New York.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

FILE – In this Aug. 31, 2007, file photo, artist LeRoy Neiman poses in his studio in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A collection of original baseball art created by celebrated sports artist LeRoy Neiman has sold for nearly $500,000 at auction.

The 129 art-decorated baseballs were made over 30 years for Neiman’s friend Charlie McCabe, a bank marketing executive. Most were done in colored magic marker and captured some of baseball’s greatest players.

Heritage Auctions says the top-selling ball depicted artwork of Marilyn Monroe and was signed by Joe DiMaggio, Monroe’s second husband. It sold for $95,600.

This undated photo provided by Heritage Auctions, shows a baseball decorated by sports artist LeRoy Neiman in 1992 depicting Marilyn Monroe and signed by Joe DiMaggio, who was briefly married to the Monroe. It is from the collection of bank marketing executive, which will be offered in a Heritage Auctions online sale on May 16. (AP Photo/Heritage Auctions)

This baseball decorated by sports artist LeRoy Neiman in 1992 depicts Marilyn Monroe and is signed by Joe DiMaggio, who was briefly married to Monroe. Heritage Auctions says it was the top-selling ball in the auction, selling for $95,600. (AP Photo/Heritage Auctions)

A baseball illustrating Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard round the world” sold for $26,680.

Thomson’s homer off Ralph Branca of the Brooklyn Dodgers clinched the 1951 National League pennant for the New York Giants.

Altogether, the online sale that ended early Saturday fetched a total of $491,748.

Neiman died in 2012. He was known for evoking the kinetic energy of the world’s biggest sporting events.

He was the official painter of five Olympiads and a contributing artist at Playboy magazine for many years.

McCabe’s friendship with Neiman evolved during his time as marketing and communications officer at Manufacturers Hanover, later JP Morgan Bank. The bank sponsored teams including the Yankees, Giants, Jets and Knicks. When a beer sponsor that had awarded the Mets Player of the Year each year with an original Neiman drawing pulled out, Manufacturers Hanover stepped in.

“The first ball LeRoy made would have been 1978, when we went to Mets spring training,” McCabe said in an interview when the sale was announced this month. “I gave him a ball and asked him to draw on it.”

This photo provided by Heritage Auctions, shows a baseball signed by Joe DiMaggio, and decorated on the other side in 1992 by sports artist LeRoy Neiman with a likeness of Marilyn Monroe. What makes the baseball rare is that DiMaggio, who was briefly married to Monroe, famously refused to sign anything related to her, the auction house said.  (AP Photo/Heritage Auctions)

This photo provided by Heritage Auctions, shows a baseball signed by Joe DiMaggio, and decorated on the other side in 1992 by sports artist LeRoy Neiman with a likeness of Marilyn Monroe. What makes the baseball rare is that DiMaggio, who was briefly married to Monroe, famously refused to sign anything related to her, the auction house said. (AP Photo/Heritage Auctions)

“He got a real kick out of painting the baseballs because he hadn’t ever drawn anything on a ball before,” he added. Over the years, McCabe said, he asked the artist to sketch other celebrities, too.

Neiman drew on some of the balls at games, others in the car as McCabe ferried him to and from stadiums. Some he later embellished at his studio.

McCabe said he kept his collection in the cellar of his New Rochelle home and never exhibited it. He planned to donate part of the proceeds, saying Neiman helped with the many charities McCabe supported.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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