Hundreds of original images from the collection of legendary sports photographer Neil Leifer–many of them signed– will go on the auction block next month. Guernsey’s will offer them as part of a special sale in New York December 2 and 3.
Leifer is one of the most accomplished photographers of 20th century sporting events. Active professionally since he was a teenager in the late 1950s, Leifer has had 200 photos appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine and another 40 on TIME magazine.
His career-long friendship with Muhammad Ali, and the combination of a critical eye along with an almost uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time has resulted in many of the most iconic sports images ever taken. Among Leifer’s landmark shots is the young Ali standing over the fallen Sonny Liston and his goal line image of the 1958 Colts/Giants sudden death championship game.The auction will contain nearly one hundred classic photographs of Ali, many of them unpublished, and many of them signed. The Ali-Liston photo is mounted alongside the original press credentials that put Leifer front row ringside. As luck would have it, this was exactly the place from which to capture the iconic image on that fateful 1965 night in Lewiston, Maine. The following inscription appears at the base of the photo: “To Neil Leifer, thank you for such a great picture – From Muhammad Ali.”In addition to Leifer’s own work will be his extraordinary collection of the work of other famous photographers. Starting in the late 1950’s, as Leifer quickly rose to prominence, his success brought him into contact with other great photographers. He then embarked on the fascinating process of swapping his original prints for the work of these other top photographers. In this way, a unique – and quite fabulous – photographic collection grew. The collection includes work of many other sports photographers of note, including Ozzie Sweet, Walter Iooss, Ralph Morse, and Carl Mydans.Half of the Collection consists of Leifer’s work, and half the work of approximately 90 other photographers constituting a virtual “who’s who” of the most legendary names in the world of photography. Whereas Leifer’s work is primarily focused on sports, the other photographers cover every field of photography.Of the 635 lots in the auction, more than 600 (95%) will be sold without minimum reserve.
The auction will be held live in New York City on December 2 and 3. A public preview will be held at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 E 73rd Street in New York on Thursday, December 1 from 10 AM to 8 PM, Friday, December 2 from 10 AM to 6 PM and Saturday, December 3 from 10 AM to noon.
For more information, visit Guernseys.com.