Whatever Happened...

An update on past news

Wednesday, August 6, 1997

Keane left isles
for California in ’91

What ever happened to world-famous artist Margaret Keane, and did she ever collect the $4 million awarded to her by a federal jury in her 1986 defamation suit against her ex-husband, Walter Keane?

Keane, famous for her paintings of big-eyed children, moved to California in 1991 after spending more than 25 years in Hawaii. In a telephone interview, Keane said she continues to paint daily at her home in Sebastopol, 60 miles north of San Francisco. "I got commissions stacked up waiting," she said.

Many of Keane's works make their way to the Keane Eyes Gallery, which opened upon her arrival in the Bay Area.

In 1986, Keane won a defamation suit against her ex-husband Walter Keane, who claimed to be the artist of her paintings. Four years later, a federal appeals court upheld the verdict that Walter had defamed Margaret, but overturned the $4 million damage award. Rather than endure a new trial on the damage issue, Margaret dismissed her claim for the money. "I didn't care about the money," she said. "I just wanted to establish the fact that I did the paintings."

Keane, 69, returned to Hawaii as recently as two years ago for an art show and said she hopes to visit the islands more often. "Hawaii will always have a special place in my heart," she said.

By Neal Iwamoto, Star-Bulletin

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