- (Photo: Reuters/Ethan Miller)
Painter and sketch artist LeRoy Neiman died in New York at age 91 on Wednesday.
His longtime publicist Gail Parenteau confirmed the news but did not reveal the cause of death, according to the Associated Press. He died at Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan after having been hospitalized in 2010 with vascular problems that required a live-saving operation to remove his right leg.
Neiman was well known for attending some of the world's biggest sporting events, including five Olympiads, and creating bright works inspired by the sports.
The media-savvy artist sketched a world chess tournament in 1972 between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer in Reykjavik, Iceland, for a live television audience.
Widely recognized for his unusual handlebar mustache, Neiman was often just as famous as the athletes he sketched. His subjects included boxing champ Muhammad Ali, former New York Jets' Joe Namath, and baseball superstars Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio.
After working at large events that also included the Super Bowl, he became one of the world's most commercially successful contemporary artists.
Just ahead of his death, Neiman published his memoirs "All Told."
"He had a happy birthday," revealed Parenteau. "He was so happy to see his memoir published," the publicist revealed.
In addition to his work with sports, Neiman was a contributing artist for Playboy during the 1950s and established a friendship with the magazine's founder, Hugh Hefner.
"It's been fun, I've had a lucky life," Neiman said in a June 2008 interview to AP. "I've zeroed in on what you would call action and excellence … Everybody who does anything to try to succeed has to give the best of themselves, and art has made me pull the best out of myself."
The legendary artist is being mourned on Twitter with users expressing their respects.
"Thank you Leroy Neiman for all your outstanding art," wrote Tommy Lasorda, baseball's Goodwill Ambassador.
Diane posted, "RIP Leroy Neiman. A sad day for the sports and art world."
"RIP #Artist LeRoy Neiman," wrote Jmarchese. "Forever associated w/ the #Jets & my Dad in my mind. A special place & memory always."
Kathryn posted, "If I go at 91 like LeRoy Neiman with as much satisfaction from my paintings' givings the best I'll be a very happy Kat."