For Sale – Forthcoming Auction – Sotheby’s London – 19 Nov. 2019 at 2 pm (see link at the bottom).
Lot 44. Estimate: £25,000 – £35,000 (Painting on the right). Oil on Canvas 36 X 28 inches.
UPDATE: Not Sold.
Sir William Orpen, R.W.S., N.E.A.C., R.A., R.H.A. (1878-1931).
Margot Bendir by William Orpen (1925 and 1926).
The painting on the left (1925) is in Mildura Art Centre, Australia (M 71). The painting on the right (1926) is in a private collection. It sold in 2008 for €28,000.
Ernestine Marguerite Louise Erskine, known as Margot (1881 – 1954) born in Edinburgh, Scotland, daughter of William A. E. Erskine, barrister at law (who later became a Hypnotist) and Emelia Ester Ovens. Margot’s father was a son of Walter Erskine, The Earl of Mar and Kellie.*
She married firstly Richard Murray McGusty (1874 – 1951) at 2 Willow Bank, Kingstown, now Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. He was a son of George Murray McGusty Solicitors at 34 Dawson Street, Dublin.
Richard joined the 45 (Dublin) Company 13 Battalion Imperial Yeomanry in 1899. He married Margot Erskine at Dublin City Registry office on 20 Oct 1902. They moved to Gosford, Oxfordshire, UK. and were dairy farmers. However, this life did not suit Margot who returned to her acting career in London promising to come home every weekend. When she failed to keep that promise, he came to visit her in London where he discovered gifts of flowers and books from Arthur Bendir. He threw the flowers out the window and demanded she return the books. When he later discovered she was accompanying Arthur Bendir in his car. He wrote to her: –
“This stage life must finish. I cannot have my wife going about with with men I do not know. Either you must come and live with me or the whole show must end. Do come back and show that you really love your Dickie”.
She replied – “I am fond of you but cannot live that sort of life again”.
Back to the Footlights – A newspaper article about Margot’s return to acting.
In 1908 Richard received a divorce settlement of £600 (over £70,000 in today’s money) and £250 costs. He moved to Canada in 1911 and became a government agent in 1917 while living at 150 Mile House (a small town in British Columbia). It is thought that Richard secondly married Beatrice Josephine Spalding but no marriage record has been found. Beatrice secondly married John Freeman.
Decree Nisi – Richard McGusty.
In July 1926 Richard was appointed stipendiary magistrate for Anyox (a Canadian mining town). He died 1951 in Canada and was buried at Pender Island Cemetery, B.C.
In 1921 Margot McGusty (nee Erskine) married Arthur Bendir (1872 – 1957) the father of her first child – Enid. He was one of the founders of Ladbrokes Betting and a big investor in the original Irish Sweepstakes (now the National Lottery). They honeymooned in Paris and for a wedding present he bought her Medmenham Abbey, of Hell-Fire Club fame, on the banks of the Thames near Marlow. Arthur and Margot Bendir were also famous racehorse owners.
Photo of Medmenham Abbey.
Margot’s first daughter, named Enid Margot McGusty, was born in Marleybone, London in 1907 but was in fact the daughter of her lover – Arthur Bendir. Enid married several times and used a few names including Babe Plunket Greene. Enid was part of the hedonistic club called the ‘Bright Young Set’ and helped organise the promiscuous, decadent pleasure seeking ‘Bath and Bottle Party’ in 1928 which included champagne, hash, cocaine and heroin. Gay and Lesbian relationships were permitted although illegal at the time, however, the hiring of a Negro Jazz band appears to have caused more outrage from the public.
Margot and Arthur had another daughter – Jane Bendir born circa 1924.
Photograph of Jane Bendir by Rita Martin, Baker Street, London W1.
This newspaper article from 1927 refers to a diamond bracelet worth £4,500 (about €200,000 today) which was lost by Margot Bendir and found by an Italian waiter who declined to hand it in and was charged with ‘stealing by finding’. A pawnbroker informed the Police when the waiter asked him for a £2 loan against the bracelet so he ‘could buy it for £5’. The waiter obviously had not seen the press announcement of a £450 reward for the lost item. He received two months in prison.
A 1927 newspaper article about the court case over Margot Bendir’s bracelet.
Individual Summary: Ernestine Marguarite Louise Erskine.
Father: William Alexander Ernest Erskine.
Mother: Emelia Ester Ovens.
Birth: 14 Oct 1881 in Edinburgh, Saint George, Scotland.
Residence: 1891 in Waterloo, Hampshire, England. Age: 9. Relation to Head of House: Daughter.
Residence: 02 Apr 1911 in St George Hanover Square, London, England: Age: 26. Marital Status: Married: Relation to Head of House: Head.
Residence: 1921-1954 in Medmenham Abbey, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England. And various London addresses.
Residence: Villa La Gabbia, St. Jean Cap Ferrat, Alpes Maritime, France.
Death: 23 Feb 1954 at 12 Boulevard de Tzarewitch, Nice, France.
Probate: 18 May 1954 in London, England.
Bendir, Ernestine Margot Louise of Medmenham Abbey, Buckinghamshire and of Villa La Gabbia, St. Jean Cap Ferrat, Alpes Maritime, France (wife of Arthur Gustav Bendir) died 23 February 1954 at 12 Boulevard de Tzarewitch, Nice, France. Probate London 18 May to the said Arthur Gustav Bendir retired company director. Effects £1929 one shilling and eight pence.
Margot Bendir’s Probate record.
Shared Facts: Richard Murray McGusty.
Marriage: 20 Oct 1902 in Registrar’s Office, City of Dublin, Ireland.
Children: Enid McGusty.
Shared Facts: Arthur Gustav Bendir.
Marriage: Jun 1921 in St George Hanover Square, London.
Residence: Arthur and Margot lived at Medmenham near Marlow, from 1921 until Margot’s death on 23 February 1954. Following her death, Arthur sold Medmenham Abbey and its contents, including the current portrait, in 1956 and he died, 30 October 1957, in Windsor, Berkshire.
Children: Enid McGusty (Natural father) and Jasmine Bendir.
Provenance: Orpen’s Studio Book 1926, with a commission price of £1000, but the line has subsequently been deleted. Orpen painted two portraits of Mrs Bendir, so the entry could relate to either or both; both works were still with the artist, unframed, at the time of his death. As the item had been deleted in the Studio Book, it was evident that neither version was sold to the commissioner at that time.
The second work is in Mildura Arts Centre, Victoria, Australia, part of the Senator Robert D. Elliott Collection [Accession Number M71].
The Artist (still in Orpen’s studio at time of his death 1931).
The Artist’s Estate at Knoedler’s – Probate Reference Number: 202. Asking Price – £100.
Sold to the Sitter or her husband, “We hope to have also sold Number 202, portrait of Mrs. Bendir (the larger of the two) for £75, the Probate for which was £25″, [Extract from letter in Knoedler’s Archive dated 10th November 1932 Number 380. At the time Knoedler’s were contacting the sitters of works left in the studio, and offering them the chance to purchase the work, for a much reduced price] (1932).
Purchaser was probably Arthur Gustav Bendir, the sitter’s husband. The sitter died in 1954 and Arthur Bendir, in 1957 (Medmenham Abbey was sold in 1956).
Margot’s Painting for sale from Medmenham Abbey Sale, 1956.
London, Phillip’s, 8th March 1988, Lot Number 53, unsold, (Illustrated in catalogue).
London, Phillip’s, 13th September 1988, Lot Number 136, sold for £5000 (Illustrated in catalogue).
A page from Phillips Auction Catalogue 1988 – Estimate £4,000 – £6,000.
The Frederick Gallery, Dublin, November 1997, Catalogue number 8.
Bought by a private collector, Ireland.
Dublin, James Adam Salerooms & Bonhams, 3rd December 2008, Important Irish Art Sale, Lot number 63, sold for €28,000 (Illustrated in catalogue, page 75).
Bought by a private collector, Ireland.
Exhibited: The Frederick Gallery, Dublin, November 1997, Catalogue number 8.
Artist’s Studio Book Reference: 40:07-1926.
Mrs Bendir is wearing the same clothes and necklace in both portraits. She has adopted the same half length pose. In one she has her head turned three quarters towards the viewer (Mildura Art Centre) which is the larger of the two and the other she is facing left, hands resting on her lap.
Inspiration for the two portraits may have come from a feature in The Sketch, dated 27th February 1918, page 187 with Margot Erskine modeling Skirt Tea Pyjamas (illustrated below), where Margot is posing in complete profile, facing left, in one photograph, and three quarter face, (although in this instance, facing right) in a second photograph.
An interesting tidbit of information where Arthur Bendir was found guilty of fraud.
Useful Links: Sotheby’s Auction: https://www.sothebys.com/en/buy/auction/2019/irish-art/sir-william-orpen-r-w-s-n-e-a-c-r-a-r-h-a-portrait
*Link to The Earl of Mar and Kellie: – https://www.revolvy.com/page/Earl-of-Kellie
Viewing ‘At the Bar Margate‘ & ‘Margot Bendir‘ at the RHA Dublin 2. Photo by Ailbhe O’Donnell.
Here’s a link to another painting of Margot Bendir which appeared on the BBC Antiques Roadshow. However, they were unable to identify the signature of the artist! https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00c9tg4
Post by Dominic Lee, Orpen Research Archives.