Lot #785
Muhammad Ali Signed Oversized Photograph by John Stewart

This lot has closed

Estimate: $2000+


Terrific semi-glossy 16 x 20 silver gelatin photo of Muhammad Ali by noted English photographer John Stewart, depicting the all-time great boxer smiling with a bee and butterfly on his fingers, signed nicely in the lower border in black felt tip. Reverse of photo bears a “Major League Archives” stamp and pencil annotations: “A/P, 5/28/99, Muhammad Ali with Butterfly + Bee.” In fine condition. A wonderful portrait of Ali that evokes his famous line prior to his 1964 fight with heavyweight champ Sonny Liston: ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can't hit what the eyes can't see.’

Accompanied by a full letter of authenticity from JSA, and by a photo of Ali taken at the time of signing. This photograph was printed from an original negative deriving from Stewart’s collection, which was purchased at auction in the late 1990s. The buyer of Stewart’s collection then sold several photographs and this photograph, together with the others, was subsequently signed at a private signing event conducted by the Prince Marketing Group in 2000.

In March of 1977 Muhammad Ali invited photographer John Stewart to his Chicago mansion for a special marketing project. Stewart photographed Ali in a rented studio for three straight mornings, noting that the champ ‘always arrived on time, accompanied by friends, handlers and helpers. He was a real trouper and lent himself to all the demands, tricks and manipulations that a photographer pulls out of his bag. You had to be fast, however, because his attention span was very short—a matter of a minute, after which he got bored and restless. The only instance Ali interfered was when the NBC television crew from New York arrived to record the sitting, and the producer tried to impose her directives. Ali warned her, ‘It’s John’s shoot. If you don’t behave yourself, you and your crew are out!’ (New York Times, 2016)

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Ft. Sports Cards
  • Dates: #629 - Ended February 09, 2022

This item is Pre-Certified by PSA/DNA
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