LeRoy Neiman, Olympics and sports artist, dies aged 91

LeRoy Neiman Neiman said he had had "a lucky life"

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US artist LeRoy Neiman, an official painter of five Olympiads famed for his instant renditions of sporting action, has died in New York aged 91.

One of the world's most commercially successful contemporary artists, Neiman's colourful paintings were as distinctive as his handlebar moustache.

He captured events as diverse as the Super Bowl, the Grand National and the Cannes Film Festival.

Some of his most famous paintings were of the boxer Muhammad Ali.

His publicist Gail Parenteau confirmed his death at a Manhattan hospital but did not disclose the cause.

Neiman - who is survived by his wife Janet Byrne - had continued to paint despite having his right leg amputated in April 2010 following a vascular problem.

"I've had a lucky life," he told the Associated Press in 2008. "I've zeroed in on what you would call action and excellence.

Boxer Bernard Hopkins holds up a portrait of himself painted by artist LeRoy Neiman Boxer Bernard Hopkins (r) was one of Neiman 's many subjects

"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."

In 1972 Neiman sketched the world chess championship between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer in Reykjavik, Iceland, live on television.

He also produced live drawings of the Olympics for television and was the official computer artist of the Super Bowl for US network CBS.

Neiman also had a decades-long association with Playboy magazine, which started in 1953 following a chance meeting with Hugh Hefner.

He regularly contributed to the magazine's 'Man at His Leisure' feature.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Hefner wrote: "Long time friend & resident Playboy artist LeRoy Neiman has passed away at the age of 91. R.I.P."

Leroy Neiman sketching Cher in September 1981 As a portraitist, Neiman drew Cher (r) and many other famous figures

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