Retired tennis star John McEnroe made some serious cash last week, selling a painting inspired by serial killer Charles Manson for $10.4 million, according to reports.
McEnroe, 59, sold his “Helter Skelter I” painting at a Phillips auction in London, Bloomberg reported. It had been hanging in his New York City apartment since he acquired it about four years ago.
Mark Bradford, a Los Angeles artist born in 1961, created the 34-foot-wide, 12-foot-long piece of art in 2007, reports said. His annual sales at auctions were nearly $7 million last year, peaking at over $17 million in 2015.
Artnet reported the painting “evokes the urban landscape of the artist’s native Los Angeles,” as the title of the work references Charles Manson’s “vision of a race war between blacks and whites.”
“In the painting, an intricate network of lines sprawls across the expanse of the canvas, resembling cracks in the earth, and are accompanied by fragments of enigmatic texts,” Artnet said.
While McEnroe’s Hall of Fame tennis career included seven Grand Slam singles titles, he is also an art enthusiast, appearing at art fairs, auctions and openings, the report said.
“In the painting, an intricate network of lines sprawls across the expanse of the canvas, resembling cracks in the earth, and are accompanied by fragments of enigmatic texts.”
McEnroe, also a tennis analyst for ESPN, sold the work in the hope that it would be displayed “in a place where people were able to see and study it,” he said in the auction catalog.
The painting sale helped give auction house Phillips the biggest single-auction total in its history.
The name of the new owner was not disclosed.
Bradford also represented the U.S. at last year’s Venice Biennial, one of the most prestigious international art exhibitions, where he expressed concern for “those most vulnerable,” the New York Times reported.
“I felt like a lot of the progress we’ve made to be inclusive, to make sure little trans kids are safe, was gone in the blink of an eye,” he said. “I felt like I was making it [an exhibited art piece] in a house that was burning.”
He is an African-American, gay man and self-proclaimed “progressive thinker” who no longer feels represented by his own government, the report said.