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Higgins painting to fetch £20,000

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Artist Alan Quigley with his painting of snooker legend Alex Higgins at the Eakin gallery in Belfast

Artist Alan Quigley with his painting of snooker legend Alex Higgins at the Eakin gallery in Belfast

Artist Alan Quigley with his painting of snooker legend Alex Higgins at the Eakin gallery in Belfast

A life-size painting of snooker legend Alex "Hurricane" Higgins is expected to sell for around £20,000 when it is unveiled next week.

The 8ft-high oil work was signed by the troubled genius and is his last portrait.

It features a cigarette on top of a snooker cue in reference to the loves and vices of his life.

The heavy smoker from Belfast won the world championship twice but suffered a steep decline and died alone, aged 61, from throat cancer - having tried to sue tobacco companies.

Artist Alan Quigley was a long-time friend. He said: "He loved it and he said: 'That will be your finest work.' I wanted to do that glossy look staring out, he did not want people feeling sorry for him."

He started work on the painting four or five years ago, based on sketches when Higgins looked considerably healthier than in his latter days.

His nails were painted the colour of snooker balls and his face appears in a full moon laughing at himself.

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In a unique twist on the supposedly unlucky Ace of Spades, Higgins wanted the Ace of Hearts to feature with the initials JW (fellow snooker star Jimmy White).

Mr Quigley added: "I think with this painting I have to some extent captured the genius of the man and hinted at his vulnerability and his loneliness. His wish at that time was that it be exhibited in a prominent venue and found a suitable home."

The painting will be unveiled at the Eakin Gallery in Belfast on November 4.


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