Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

IRON WORKS - 25th Anniversary Auction - Mike Tyson Historic Time Capsule (condensed version)

In the summer of 1986 I spent ten days in the gym of legendary boxing trainer Cus D'Amato working on an art project that would become one of the defining moments of my career. I was working in New York City as an illustrator at the time for all the major magazines, newspapers and book publishers when art director Larry Gendron of Sports Illustrated asked me if I would be interested in recording my impressions of a young up and coming boxer named Mike Tyson. I sketched, took Polaroid pictures and traced Tyson on large pieces of butcher paper to create life size drawings and paintings. I interviewed him, Kevin Rooney his trainer and others who frequented the gym. I learned much about Tyson's history and the legacy of D'Amato. My goal initially was to record impressions of Tyson but as I spent more time in this old gym another story presented itself. D'Amato had died the year before but the walls of this space echoed his spirit and wisdom. His devotion to the pursuit of perfection through discipline was evident in the champions he trained, Floyd Patterson and Jose' Torres. Tyson said that D'Amato was the only father he really had. In my talks with him it became clear that he was imbued with a part of his father/trainer. However, he would not be prepared for the fame and money that was coming toward him like a locomotive.

This auction celebrates the 25th anniversary of Iron Works. It represents the last of Tyson's solitude before his first world heavyweight boxing championship and tumultuous career. The auction includes: Fifteen signed pieces of art, five life size. One is framed; Sixty two original one of a kind Polaroid pictures; Three microcassette recordings of interviews with Tyson, Rooney and Nadia Hujtyn; Five original copies of "Print" magazine that include the "Iron Works" project; the opportunity for a one to two hour conversation with the artist by phone, skype or in person if they are in the Los Angeles area.

All art is flapped with archival paper and repositionable tape.

" Iron Mike " 23" x 24", graphite, oil on board. New York Society of Illustrators Annual. This painting sums up the dark, forboding power that Tyson would project in the ring. It was unrelenting, and unforgiving.

" Iron Mike Profile " 20" x 23", graphite, oil, butcher paper on board. Cover of Print magazine. Tyson was an enigma and a complicated individual, hence this life size profile represented the classic noble boxer but could also be construed as a mug shot.

" Rooney Taping Mike " 29.25" x 29.75", graphite, oil, butcher paper on archival foam core.

" Fists " 17.5" x 18.75", graphite, oil on board. Silver medal, New York Society of Illustrators.

" Power and Science " 52.5" x 40", graphite, oil, butcher paper on archival foam core. Framed.

" Jump Rope " 24.5" x 23.5", graphite, oil, butcher paper on archival foam core.

" D'Amato's Gym " 27" x 18.25", graphite, pastel, oil, butcher paper on board.

" Nadia Hujtyn " 17" x 22", graphite, pastel, oil, butcher paper on board. Female boxer/trainer.

" Darren " 22" x 24", graphite, oil on board.

" Jason " 22.5" x 23.5", graphite, pastel, oil, butcher paper on board.

" Tyson and Speedbag " 8.25" x 10.5", graphite, pastel on paper.

" Tyson Mouthpiece " 8.25" x 10.5", graphite, oil on paper.

" Cus D'Amato " 8.25" x 10.5", graphite on paper. Sketch from a photo.

" Kevin Rooney " 8.25" x 10.5", graphite, pastel on paper.

" Slip Bag " 8" x 21", graphite, oil, paper on board.

The photos and sketches are protected inside acid free, archival sleeves within a beautiful bound album. All photos are Polaroid SX-70 or Polaroid Spectra. Subject matter includes: Mike Tyson portraits (12 images); Mike Tyson workout & training ritual (16 images); Mike Team Tyson & D'Amato Gym (20 images); Training & Sparring (8 images); Mike Tyson vs Lorenzo Boyd (6 images).

All recordings were taken place inside D'Amato's Gym except Tyson's which was done over the phone. Cassette #1 - Kevin Rooney interview; Nadia Hujtyn interview; Mike Tyson sparring session; Cassette #2 - Mike Tyson recorded phone interview; Cassette #3 - Tyson sparring and Rooney coaching.

All photos are placed within acid free, archival sleeves held in place by acid free, archival photo corners. All art and photography is copyright Greg Spalenka. Owner of the art and photography may use the images for promotional purposes with permission from the artist.

Back to Lot