Updated: October 25, 2012 6:18AM
In his final months, artist Leroy Neiman showed the commitment and toughness of the many iconic athletes he famously painted.
After his right leg was amputated, the wheelchair-bound Neiman had assistants lift and lower the massive, 4-by-6-foot canvas of his final painting, which centered on one of his passions.
“He loved golf,” said Benjamin Isaacs, Neiman’s longtime agent. “His handicap was trying to play, he’d always tell me.”
Neiman, 91, died in June, and his last two pieces were for the Ryder Cup. His painting of Medinah Country Club’s clubhouse took eight months to complete and can be purchased at the main merchandise tent at the event for $321,750, which includes tax. While that might seem steep, some of Neiman’s paintings have sold for $500,000.
Ever the philanthropist, Neiman also painted a large golf ball that will be sold at an auction, with proceeds benefitting two local charities. He and his wife, Janet, both alumni of the School of the Art Institute, donated $5 million to their alma mater to build a student center.
While he and his wife lived in New York, the couple loved Chicago, Isaacs said. In 1954, Neiman connected with Playboy, and he maintained a relationship with the magazine for 50 years.