John McEnroe Art Collecting Tennis Legend

Sports and art are similar in many ways. They both have themed exhibitions, engaged visual statements, design, collaborations, and then there are also sportsmen that are keen art collectors. Many sportswoman and men love art. Some of the legends invest in art; while most have never had training in art history or literature, they are naturally drawn by the intricacy of creative expression. Some of the biggest sports legends that are also prominent art collectors include David Beckham, John McEnroe, Grant Hill, Sami Allagui and Fabio Capello.

John McEnroe

As one of the most famous tennis stars in US tennis history, John McEnroe might not seem to many as someone who would be an art collector. That is only until you lay eyes on his impressive collection of art. During McEnroe’s amazing career he collected mostly contemporary art, which includes works of Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol and Michel Basquiat. McEnroe not only personally know Warhol, but he also commissioned him to produce a portrait of him and Tatum O’Neal, his wife at the time.

John McEnroe Tennis Legend

To the world, John Patrick McEnroe was the bad-tempered, yet brilliant sportsmen. The tennis legend also had several other interests besides sports. This became known on the 1st of July when he handed over a never publicly displayed portrait of him and his first wife over to Sotheby’s to be auctioned.

McEnroe later told the press that his love for art started back in the early seventies. John’s parents never visited art galleries, he had the perfect opportunity in 1977 during the French championships. Mary Carillo invited McEnroe to the Jeu de Paume, the main reason for the visit was to view the Water Lilies painting of Monet. At that stage, McEnroe did not know a Michelangelo form a Matisse.

Tennis Legend John McEnroe Meets Warhol at Studio 54

John McEnroe also remembered meeting Warhol during one of his visits to the night club called Studio 54, and the tennis star was mentioned in the artist diary in 1979.

McEnroe remembered the artist as kind of weird taking pictures while partying and only later found out that Warhol was one of the most successful and influential artists. In 1986, when McEnroe married Tatum O’Neil, he bid at a charity action $30,000 to have Warhol paint their portrait. Warhol also painted stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe from publicity shots.

Most of his work is based on Polaroid shots. Warhol visited the McEnroe residence to take photographs of the couple. It was planned that he would do several paintings, although the first took quite a long time and it was the only one completed before Warhol died.

John McEnroe’s marriage failed due to cocaine use and professional pressure, and they got divorced in 1992. He put the portrait in storage and because the couple had three children, he could not give each a picture of their mom and dad by Warhol. This is the main reason he decided to sell the painting and make a donation to charity.