J.C. Newman Cigar Co. Celebrates Famed Artist LeRoy Neiman
An authentic lithograph of Neiman’s 1978 painting “Irish-American Bar” wraps every special-edition smoke.
The perfect cigar is a work of art. Now, however, the distinct mediums of tobacco blending and painting have joined forces literally, courtesy of a collaboration between the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. and the estate of iconic American artist LeRoy Neiman.
Neiman ascended art history as the official live, televised painter of five summer and winter Olympics, from the 1972 games in Munich through the 1984 games in Los Angeles.
His regular appearances on ABC’s Wide World of Sports further transformed him into a household name, with all the glory and trash talking that title avails. Some say he’s on the level of Normal Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth.
Photographs of Neiman often depict the artist clutching either a paintbrush or a well-rolled cigar beneath his handlebar mustache. In 2011, at age 90, Neiman even kicked off a New York Times interview at his home and studio—the same Central Park West building where Rockwell lived—to ignite a sweet smelling Cuban. None other than Salvador Dalí once told him that smoking makes for “a good prop.”
“I came from a world of five-cent cigars and whiskey drinking,” Neiman told Cigar Aficionado during the 1990s. “You were supposed to clean your plate and finish the whole cigar.”
The new stogies honoring the artist were just released during the Premium Cigar Association Trade Show in Las Vegas. The slim sum of 10,000 cigars packed across 500 cabinets of 20 will be available for purchase at preferred retailers this year, at a price of around $20 per smoke.
An authentic lithograph of Neiman’s brooding but colorful 1978 painting Irish-American Bar accompanies each cabinet and wraps every cigar within it. The bottom of the box is also printed with a paint-splattered photograph from the floor of Neiman’s actual studio. All proceeds will go towards the advancement of art education across America’s public schools, a cause he supported during his life.
“We chose Irish-American Bar as it embodies Neiman’s fascination with lively social settings and his ability to capture the energy and camaraderie found within them,” Tara Zabor, Executive Director of the LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation, tells Maxim.
“It depicts a favorite hangout where he forged lifelong friendships and found endless inspiration.” Beyond sports, Neiman mostly portrayed scenes of cavorting luxury in fact, perhaps celebrating his own rags to riches tale. This one has an especially smoky palette, in comparison to his usual fauvist colorways.
Drew Newman, the company’s fourth-generation owner, spearheaded the new blend beneath it all at J.C. Newman’s El Reloj factory in Tampa. The cigar itself is a 6-inch by 52-ring toro rolled with a Havana Rosado, featuring a Florida Sun Grown binder and a blend of aged filler tobaccos from Latin America.
“I wanted to develop a blend that is reminiscent of the cigars that LeRoy enjoyed decades ago,” he said. “It was important to me to hand roll a cigar that he would have loved.”