The world knows LeRoy Neiman as one of the world’s most popular and commercial artists. He was the painter who captured the Olympics as an impressionistic kaleidoscope of global competition. He was the showman who mixed with champions—from Muhammed Ali to Joe Namath to Secretariat—and cultural icons—from Leonard Bernstein to Frank Sinatra—turning celebrity into art. He was the media master who painted on live TV and enlivened books and magazines—Playboy, Time, and more—with his bright sketches. Throughout his exuberant life and his flamboyant career, LeRoy Neiman had no trouble being known. Today, he merits recognition for more than just his body of artwork—that is, for his extraordinary legacy as one of the art world’s leading educators, authors, and philanthropists.
Neiman saw his life and his purpose as much bigger than art. From the start of his professional art career in the 1950s until his death in 2012, he—like the America of his time—grew prosperous. And while he was, as a typical child of the Depression, very frugal, he was extraordinarily philanthropic. After establishing the LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation in 1986, he donated more than $20 million to art institutions and programs that support disadvantaged youth. Today, the LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation perpetuates the legacy of the renowned artist who remembered where he came from and understood the value of giving back.