Margaret Keane, 'Big Eyes' Artist and Subject of Tim Burton Biopic, Dies at 94

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 Tim Burton, artist Margaret Keane, actress Amy Adams
Desiree Navarro/WireImage

Renowned artist Margaret Keane died on Sunday at her home in Napa, California, her official Facebook page confirmed. She was 94.

"We’re sad to announce that Margaret Keane, ‘The Mother of Big Eyes, our Queen, a Modern Master and Legend,’ peacefully passed away Sunday morning at her home in Napa, CA, she was 94," read the statement. 

Her daughter, Jane Swigert, tells The New York Times that the cause of death was heart failure.

Margaret is best known for her oil paintings of subjects with big eyes, mainly women, children, or animals. In 2014, filmmaker Tim Burton released a biopic called Big Eyes about Keane's phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, Walter Keane, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.

In 1986 in Hawaii, Margaret sued Walter, who was now her ex-husband, for defamation over his continued false claims that he was responsible for her works of art. She also dramatically challenged him to a painting contest, which quickly proved that she was indeed the “big eyes” artist. Margaret won $4 million in damages, but reportedly never saw a penny of it as her ex claimed to be broke.

In Burton's film, Margaret was portrayed by Amy Adams, while her husband was played by Christoph Waltz. 

Margaret Keane Amy Adams

Margaret Keane and actress Amy Adams attend 'Big Eyes' premiere at Museum of Modern Art on Dec. 15, 2014 in New York City.

Andrew Toth/FilmMagic

On Wednesday, Big Eyes co-screenwriter Larry Karaszewski paid tribute to the artist, writing, “Margaret Keane has passed on. Grateful we all got to spend so much time getting to know her beautiful spirit. It took a decade to bring Big Eyes to the screen. But her tale of surviving abuse was important. She wanted the world to know the truth about her life and art.”

Margaret is survived by her daughter, Jane, and her five stepchildren and eight step-grandchildren.

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