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Beloved swine artist Pigcasso dead at age 8: ‘An inspiring figure’

(Left) Pigcasso with painting. (Right) Joanne Lefson, 52, from Franschhoek, South Africa, and Pigcasso painting at Farm Sanctuary SA.
Pigcasso, the iconic animal artist who sold over $1 million in original paintings, has died at age 8 after suffering with chronic Rheumatoid arthritis, according to her owner and animal activist Joanne Lefson.

She sow had a nose for art.

Pigcasso, the wildly talented pig who sold over $1 million of her paintings and was hailed “the most successful non-human artist in world history,” has died at age 8.

Joanne Lefson, the creative critter’s owner, recently announced the 450-pound visionary’s death due chronic Rheumatoid arthritis. Prior to her passing, the pig’s illness rendered both of her back legs lame, owing to calcification of her lower spine.

Pigcasso, the iconic animal artist, has died at age 8 after suffering with chronic Rheumatoid arthritis. Farm Sanctuary SA / CATERS NEWS
Pigcasso, the iconic animal artist, has died at age 8 after suffering with chronic Rheumatoid arthritis. Farm Sanctuary SA / CATERS NEWS

“There is much sadness that such an inspiring figure for welfare animals has passed,” Lefson, 52, told Caters News. “But we also celebrate a life well-lived and the profound difference she made.”

Lefson, an animal activist from Franschhoek, South Africa, rescued Pigcasso from a slaughterhouse when the oinker just four weeks-old in May 2016.

Thanks to her blond savior, the pink prodigy escaped the skillet.

“Pigcasso would have become bacon bit within 6 months of age,” said Lefson. “Instead, she was saved and rose to inspire millions of people to reconsider what they eat through her extraordinary talent.”

The four-legged luminary lived and painted at Farm Sanctuary SA, a non-profit foundation that provides a safe sanctuary for rescued farmed animals in Franschhoek.

“Her legacy continues through the sanctuary and our mission to inspire a kinder, more sustainable world for all,” added Lefson of the late wonder — whose artwork graces collections belonging to A-listers such as Ed Westwick and Rafael Nadal and Jane Goodall.

Pigcasso, cheekily named as an honorable nod to renowned cubism pioneer Pablo Picasso, rose to international fame in late 2016. Buzz of her skilled strokes sizzled throughout the art world after Lefson popped a modified paintbrush in the swine’s mouth and plopped her in front of an empty canvas.

She signed each masterpiece by dipping her snout in red paint and stamping it onto the finished product.

Pigcasso’s paintings were cherished by VIP such as Ed Westwick and Rafael Nadal and Jane Goodall. Farm Sanctuary SA / CATERS NEWS
Pigcasso’s paintings were cherished by VIP such as Ed Westwick and Rafael Nadal and Jane Goodall. Farm Sanctuary SA / CATERS NEWS

“I do not force her to paint. She paints when she wants to,’’ Lefson explained at the dawn of Pigcasso’s career. “Often, we pack an overloaded picnic basket and she pigs out on organic strawberries, guavas and caramel-coated popcorn in between brush strokes.”

“For Pigcasso, it’s simply hog heaven.”

In 2018 the haute hog became the first animal artist to host a solo art exhibition which was held at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. She went on to helm several additional exhibitions in Netherlands, Germany, France, China and the United Kingdom.

The following year, Pigcasso inked a deal with Swiss watchmaker, Swatch. She lent her “Flying Pig by Ms. Pigcasso” — a green, blue and pink wonder — to the face of the company’s $120 limited-edition timepiece.

In 2021, the savvy sow sold her “WILD AND FREE”  gem to a German buyer for over $25,000, setting an official world record for the highest-selling artwork ever painted by an animal.

The pig made international headlines for selling its “WILD AND FREE” work of art to a German buyer for over $25,000 in 2021. Farm Sanctuary SA / CATERS NEWS
The pig made international headlines for selling its “WILD AND FREE” work of art to a German buyer for over $25,000 in 2021. Farm Sanctuary SA / CATERS NEWS

Tragically, Pigcasso’s otherworldly success was overcast by sickness soon thereafter.

‘While Pigcasso had already shown symptoms of arthritis over the past few years, her physical condition rapidly deteriorated in September 2023,” said Lefson.

“By early October, both of her back legs had become lame due to the calcification of her lower spine aggravated by the arthritis,” she continued. “Both incurable conditions directly linked with the manipulations and modifications that farm animals are subjected to on today’s industrialized factory farms.”

But rather than mourning, Lefson is celebrating Pigcasso’s life and legacy, applauding the lasting impact her million-dollar artistry has made on her fellow recuse animals.

“[It] is not only a testament to her extraordinary creativity and intelligence, but the revenue raised also benefits and sustains Farm Sanctuary SA where she lived,” said Lefson of the sow’s earnings. “The funds have also supported other charities that resonate with her mission.”

Pigcasso’s last work of art is titled “Standing Ovation.”