The tussle over Westendorp | Lifestyle.INQ
Betsy Westendorp

The tussle over Westendorp

Betsy Westendorp

People are talking about how cutthroat the art business is becoming.

Two leading Metro galleries recently found themselves in contretemps over 92-year-old painter Betsy Westendorp, best known for her portraits apotheosizing the Marcoses before their fall.

A major museum retrospective of her work is scheduled for May. A smaller selling show of her work before then, therefore, would be a plum prize for any gallery.

It seems Leon Gallery initiated talks with Westendorp and her granddaughter Cristina Grisar—also an artist—as early as last November, for an exhibit in early April. Somehow, the Provenance Gallery ended up with the major Westendorp works and the show, which will open March 7.

Now Leon is crying foul.

Of course, possession is nine-tenths of the law, and many art exhibits are based on nothing more than handshake deals between artist and gallery.

People are asking: Where do ethics come in?

It’s anybody’s guess. —ERIC S. CARUNCHO