After a half century of searching, Hawaii family is reunited with stolen Margaret Keane ‘Big Eyes’ painting

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Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 9:11 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 11:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A valuable “Big Eyes” painting stolen nearly 50 years ago was finally returned to its rightful owners — a family in Hawaii.

The oil painting by artist Margaret Keane, which was titled “Eyes Upon You,” was taken from the waiting room of an Oahu dentist’s office in 1972.

Its owners hired a former FBI agent to find the painting — but a simple Google search revealed it was sold by Heritage Auctions in December.

The auction company said it had gotten it from a family who bought it from a New Jersey gallery in the 80s.

“They were shocked to see it was missing. It was a favorite painting for the whole family,” said Bob Wittman, a family representative and former FBI agent.

Keane is well-known known for her paintings that depict subjects with “Big Eyes,” which was also the title of a Tim Burton biopic on the artist released in 2014.

For the family who lost the painting to thieves years ago, it wasn’t only a piece of art but it also held sentimental value.

One of the children in the painting is the daughter of the dentist who had it up in his waiting room.

Daughter of dentist in the painting
Daughter of dentist in the painting(Hawaii News Now)

“If you look closely, the little girl was actually in the painting. She was 7 years old at the time of the painting by Margaret Keane. And she put her in the painting itself,” Wittman said.

“That’s why it was so special to get this painting back.”

Thankfully, both the buyer and seller were cooperative in returning the painting to its original owners.

The family, who wants to remain anonymous, said in a statement they are grateful to have the painting back.

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