Lawsuit Erupts Over Portrait of Jackie Kennedy Onassis as Teen

Portrait of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis in 1950 by Irwin Hoffman.
Portrait of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis in 1950 by Irwin Hoffman.
(Wallace Gallery)

A lawsuit was filed in federal court by relatives of former First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis after a 1950 portrait of her that was allegedly stolen decades ago surfaced at a Long Island art gallery.

The relatives contend that the painting of Jackie at age 19 was stolen in the 1960s or 70s from "Grey Gardens," the notoriously derelict estate of Onassis' aunt and cousin, both named Edith Beale. Family members became aware of the work at an East Hampton gallery in 2016.

According to Newsday, Wallace Gallery owner Terry Wallace, the defendant, says he acquired the portrait 30 years ago from a reputable art dealer and that its provenance is “impeccable.” Wallace won't reveal the dealer who supplied the work, but says he checked with local police and had no knowledge of theft reports.

Onassis's relatives say the Grey Gardens Beales did not report the crime because of feuds with local governments over the garbage-filled condition of their home. A 1998 article in Hamptons Magazine, the suit says, describes the painting as missing from the estate.

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