HONOLULU -- Walter Keane, ordered by a jury to pay his former wife $4 million for slander in a dispute over her paintings of big-eyed children and animals, says he will appeal the verdict.
Keane, 70, of La Jolla, Calif., said after the federal court verdict was returned Tuesday he has no money and will appeal. He maintained he created the paintings despite the jury's verdict.
'I was painting these children 10 years before this woman had ever heard of me,' Keane said of his former wife, Margaret Keane, 58. 'She was a teenager when I was in Berlin painting these children.'
Margaret Keane filed suit against Walter Keane after he told a freelance reporter for USA Today in 1984 that she was claiming to be the originator of paintings he created because she thought he was dead.
Gannett Co. Inc., publisher of USA Today, also was named in the suit. But Judge Samuel King dismissed Gannett as a defendant about midway through the trial.
Margaret said she was grateful for the jury's verdict.
'I'm glad it's over,' she added..
San Francisco lawyer Bart Prom, representing Margaret Keane, had told the jury that Walter Keane 'bullied' his wife while they were married from 1955 to 1965 into letting him claim credit for the paintings.
She agreed and 'was living a lie' until she revealed during a 1970 San Francisco radio talk show that she was the painter, Prom said.
At one point during the trial, Margaret Keane painted one of the pictures in the courtroom. Her former husband, saying he had a shoulder injury, declined to paint one of his own.
Margaret Keane also brought some of the paintings to the courtroom and subjects testified they posed for them, her lawyer said. Walter Keane brought no such paintings to court because 'they don't exist,' Prom said.
Margaret Keane did not say how many of the paintings she still owned.