An unknown man stole a $5,000 painting of boxing legend Muhammad Ali Saturday, and Louisville, Kentucky police issued a manhunt for the suspect.
Authorities told WDRB a man in a blue hoodie visited the Muhammad Ali Center Oct. 22. That afternoon, the suspect ripped a painting from the walls of the LeRoy Neiman gallery. The showroom features the late artist’s renderings of Ali, who passed away in June.
The gallery is especially significant because Neiman and Ali shared a bond during the boxer’s career.
UK’s RT reported the pair met in 1962 ahead of a match in New York City. Neiman – who died in 2012 – drew Ali as he sat in his dressing room.
“The artist frequently sketched and painted the athlete in training and at his major bouts around the world, constantly sketching, drawing and painting,” the artist’s website stated. “Ali often took up the brush himself, and did a number of prediction drawings for Neiman before big fights.”
The stolen artwork in question depicts the champion athlete against a mostly rustic orange background donning white trunks and red boxing gloves.
“So close to Muhammad’s passing – to take something from the Ali Center, the place that represents and preserves his legacy, is just very sad,” Ali Center spokesperson Jeanie Kahnke told WDRB.
The missing piece leaves only 63 signed pieces by Neiman in the gallery. Louisville Metro Police Detective Matt Montfort said the suspect told center workers he came to see the gallery from out of state. Monfort went on to describe security footage that captured the incident. The suspect began by removing the piece from the wall. Then, he hid behind the door, placed it under his shirt and left.
“I’m appalled,” Montfort said. “I think everybody would be appalled by this. [Ali is] kind of a national treasure.”
Kahnke told the Associated Press the center has upped security to stop other disturbances from occurring.