As was the case with David Bowie, then Prince earlier this year, when a celebrity dies, the value of their collectibles skyrockets. Now we’re seeing the same phenomenon with Muhammad Ali collectibles. The market is flooded with signed memorabilia, images, boxing gloves, even art.
That means sports collectors are busy penning their wish lists with items from the champ. Here’s a look at five Ali collectibles to add to that wish list. (The million-dollar prices of some of these items tend to place an emphatic “wish” in “wish list.”)
Fight-Worn Gloves From Landmark Matches
Ali fought a number of hallmark matches during his illustrious career, making his historic gloves a hot commodity among collectors, and hot commodities with massive price tags. Gloves from Ali’s various major fights have sold for hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. These gloves from the famous “Phantom Punch” fight against Sonny Liston (pictured) sold for a cool $837,000, while the gloves Ali wore for his first title defense against Floyd Patterson fetched a staggering $1.1 million, purchased by Lorenzo Fertitta (yes, the same Fertitta that co-owns the UFC).
It’s simple: Equipment that was actually used by the champ in the ring, such as boxing gloves or trunks, always draws the interest of collectors. Ali trunks are highly coveted collectibles and can command big price tags, though not quite as valued as his ring-used gloves. These non-signed trunks that Ali trained in (pictured) are valued at $25,000. However, similar to his fight-worn gloves, trunks involved in Ali’s key fights can command over $100,000—his Rumble in the Jungle trunks, for instance, sold for $119,938 earlier this year, May 2016.
Signed Iconic Images Throughout His Career
From the famous “Phantom Punch” image of Ali standing triumphant over a downed Liston to Ali connecting with a crippling right cross against George Chuvalo (pictured), the legendary boxer was depicted in dozens of iconic images throughout his career. That means collectors have a number of images to target.
When you’re in the spotlight for several years, a champion in the ring and for civil rights, obviously your likeness will be depicted on canvas. Ali was, and still is, the subject of several paintings throughout the years, and sometimes the champ was the muse of brilliant artists. LeRoy Neiman was that artist. Neiman produced various Ali paintings during his career, but this expressionist piece in 1971 to promote The Fight of the Century might be his crown jewel. This larger-than-life piece sold for over $155,000 at auction.
A true sports legend, painted by a legendary sports artist. It’s hard to top that.
Speaking of art, Ali wasn’t born donning gloves; he began sketching and painting before he earned fame in the ring. Ali’s father, Cassius Clay Senior, was a painter by trade and passed down his interest in art to Ali. Though Ali was by no means a classically trained—or refined—artist, he transposed his emotions to canvas just as an artist would, and that fact was evident in each sketch, each painting he created. Ali drew and painted throughout his career, and continued even after his time in the ring.
Despite the sometimes-crude nature of Ali’s original artwork, that doesn’t take away from one simple fact: It was created by Muhammad Ali, a legend inside the ring and out. At times, you can even follow the timeline of his life by the subject of his paintings, from his early boxing days as an up-and-coming fighter to his later years of recollecting time in the ring. This painting, entitled Mosque II, can be purchased for $3,500.
Ali Collectibles Everywhere, Caution Recommended
Yes, Ali’s collectibles have seen a spike in their value since his passing, and yes, he was a prolific signer during his lifetime. But he is also a heavily forged signer, especially during his days of battling Parkinson’s. With that said, when adding any of the thousands of Ali items to your wish list, exercise caution. Know that although Ali items can be valuable, they can be counterfeit. So ensuring your collectible is certified is paramount.