Seek to Dismiss Portrait Suit

Terry Wallace, the owner of Wallace Gallery in East Hampton, who is being sued by the nephew of Edith Bouvier Beale over the ownership of a small portrait of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, has made a motion to have the case dismissed.

Ms. Bouvier Beale died in 2002. Her nephew Bouvier Beale Jr. is the executor of her estate. 

In Mr. Wallace’s motion, his attorney, Todd Wengrovsky, traces the history and provenance of the painting, revealing, for the first time, the names of the people who sold the painting to Mr. Wallace. 

The motion also claims that Ms. Beale never had possession of the painting, contrary to the original complaint filed by Mr. Beale. It claims that Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’s father, John Vernou Bouvier III, mentioned Ms. Beale once in his will, leaving her $2,500. There is no mention of the painting. 

The portrait, by Irwin D. Hoffman, was given to the future first lady by her father. In turn, the new filing states, young Jackie gifted the painting to Theresa Schey, who was her riding instructor. 

When Ms. Schey died in 1968, the painting then became the property of Theresa Todd Maloney, Ms. Schey’s daughter. Ms. Maloney was a partner at Village Antiques in East Hampton with Mildred Greenwald.

“I purchased the painting from Village Antiques on Newtown Lane, East Hampton, along with an unrelated still life for a total of $1,500,” Mr. Wallace says in the motion. That sale took place in 1990, Mr. Wallace said. He also provided to the court a copy of the bill of sale. 

Edith Beale, known as Little Edie, and her mother, Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale, were the subjects of the 1975 documentary “Grey Gardens.” Once society women, they held court in a dilapidated estate on West End Road in East Hampton Village by the time the film was made.

Bouvier Beale Jr., along with his wife, Eva Beale, market online merchandise related to “Grey Gardens.”