Artist LeRoy Neiman unveils Ryder Cup captain portraits

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LOUISVILLE, Ky -- The city of Louisville, Kentucky, rolled out the red carpet for Ryder Cup captains Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo on October 22, and legendary artist LeRoy Neiman also got into the act.

The two captains, who marked just under a year to the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, visited Muhammad Ali Center, where Neiman unveiled the first-ever Ryder Cup captain portraits. Also in attendance were scores of children, many of them members of The First Tee of Louisville.

The works of art will be auctioned to benefit the Ali Center and The First Tee of Louisville.

The unveiling was held in the LeRoy Neiman Gallery of the Ali Center, which also features Neiman's famed portrait and other images of Ali.

The Ryder Cup captains' portraits will move to the Cobalt Artworks Gallery nearby on Louisville's Main Street. Both pieces of original art will be auctioned off by public bidding, which will continue until September 17, 2008, when the portraits will be awarded to the highest bidders during the Ryder Cup Gala Dinner.

"The eyes of the world will be focused on Louisville, Kentucky, for golf's grandest event, the Ryder Cup," said PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb. "It is only fitting that one of the most exciting events in all sports partner with a cultural icon to give back to the community that is hosting us."

Neiman is one of the most popular living artists in the United States today. He was commissioned to create the Official Artwork for the 2008 Ryder Cup in Louisville. Previously, he created official imagery for the 1997 Kentucky Derby, 1998 Breeders' Cup Championship, the 2000 PGA Championship, as well as official art for five Olympiads, four Super Bowls and the inaugural Muhammad Ali Center poster. The captains' portraits are said to be valued at between $65,000 and $75,000 apiece.

"I am pleased to be back in Louisville and part of one of golf's greatest events," said Neiman. "I have sketched and painted both Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo over the years and have nothing but admiration for them and their careers."

Cobalt Artworks Gallery is currently hosting a year-long retrospective of Neiman's work entitled "LeRoy Neiman -- Five Decades." The exhibit is comprised of paintings, prints, drawings, books and posters curated from the artist's personal collection and will be on display through the Ryder Cup in September 2008. For more information about the Neiman retrospective, visit www.cobaltartworks.com.