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Ali paintings headline amazing SportsFest exhibit

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The most important athlete in history will be honored in the biggest SportsFest exhibit ever, displaying the largest paintings most fans have ever seen, all at the Art of the Stars exhibit at SportsFest, June 9-11 at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.

Art of the Stars, national distributors for acclaimed painter Stephen Holland, is bringing about $1 million worth of original paintings to SportsFest, including three Muhammad Ali original oil paintings that were on display for the opening of the Ali Museum in Louisville and later at a gallery at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The oil-on-board paintings were recently purchased by Art of the Stars owner Robb Holub. All are signed by Ali and Holland. "The painting of Ali over Liston is the most famous sports picture in the world," Holub said. "That painting sells for $100,000. It's six feet tall; it's like you're standing next to Muhammad."

The other two originals include the Olympic torch-lighting painting. "It's about five feet tall and six feet wide, and also signed by Muhammad Ali, and it sells for $75,000," Holub said.

The painting called "In His Prime" is a shot of Ali punching. Holub called it "the most dramatic of all the originals." Signed by Ali, it has a price tag of $75,000.

Very limited-edition signed prints of all three originals will be available at the show as well; price is $7,500. While the originals and the signed items are high-end, all attendees will be able to take home a great collectible of Holland paintings. Art of the Stars will give out a free poster featuring a collage of some of his greatest works, free to the first 1,000 attendees each day, and Holland will be on hand to sign those posters (again for free) on Saturday and Sunday.

The original art pieces are the most recent three that Ali has signed, meaning there's a chance these could be the last original pieces he ever signs - if there isn't another original-art deal put together. These pieces were produced under the direction of Harlan Werner's SPS Art and they were licensed by the Ali family. SPS still controls Ali's autograph rights; the Ali family recently sold his name and image rights for $50 million.

"The size and quality of the signatures on these three paintings are some of the best, if not the best, that the industry has ever seen," Werner said. "The three original paintings are phenomenal."

Werner said Art of the Stars has done a great job in working with the Ali artwork and getting it offered into channels besides those that SPS Art typically serves. "Robb has done a great job for us; we're very proud of this association," Werner said. "He's allowing collectors to get a chance to get artwork that we've primarily been selling into art galleries the past few years. The displays are always first class and I've found that he's dealt with everybody in a very honorable way."

"I'm traveling with not only these three originals, I'm bringing 12-13 original paintings of Stephen Holland," Holub said. "I have the Tiger Woods shot at the Masters original painting. That's signed by Tiger Woods and is also six feet tall. That piece is $52,500. I'm also bringing prints of Tiger Woods, all signed."

In addition to the above, Art of the Stars will have the just-released Babe Ruth limited-edition print offered at $1,750. The price range for the limited-edition prints available from the company generally range between $1,250-$10,000. Up to 20 different athlete prints will be offered for sale at the show. All come with a certificate of authenticity and are fully licensed by the leagues and estates.

"Last but not least, we are also bringing a 'Career Tribute' Michael Jordan original painting that Holland created exclusively for Art of the Stars," Holub said. "It will be unveiled at the Chicago show, and people will be able to pre-order the signed limited-edition prints. It looks like they will have a July delivery. But the original painting will be at the show." Stephen Holland's work is for sale at "He is today's LeRoy Neiman," Holub said.