By City News Service
The University of Texas at Austin is driven by greed in its efforts to seize an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett from her longtime companion Ryan O'Neal, an attorney alleged Monday, but the college held to its claim that the late actress clearly left the artwork to the school.
"It's greed by the University of Texas," O'Neal attorney Marty Singer told the six-man, six-woman Los Angeles Superior Court jury tasked with determining ownership of the silk-screen portrait, which hangs in the bedroom of the actor's Malibu beach house.
In his closing argument, UT attorney David Beck screened clips from Fawcett's reality series and showed the jury portions of trust and insurance documents that he contends support the claim that the college is the portrait's rightful owner.
"Please, please, speak for Farrah," the attorney told the jury.
Jurors received the case about 2:45 p.m. after closing arguments concluded.
O'Neal contends the Warhol piece was given to him as a gift by the artist, and Fawcett and her friends knew he was the owner when she died of cancer in 2009.
Fawcett bequeathed all of her original artwork, as well as a second Warhol portrait of the actress, also created by the late artist in 1980, to the university that the Texas-born beauty attended for several years in the 1960s, until her acting career took off.
Beck argued that the "Charlie's Angels" star wanted UT to have both Warhols.
"Farrah said what she wanted done, and Ryan O'Neal can't change that today," Beck said.
Singer said the Warhol portrait is worth about $800,000 to $1 million. The figure is far below the estimated $12 million value given the painting by a UT-hired appraiser who testified during the trial.
"What would Farrah Fawcett do today if she was still alive?" Singer said, summing up the question at the heart of the case.
The school sued O'Neal in August 2011, after the disputed Warhol portrait of the Oscar-nominated actor's longtime love was seen in his Malibu home during an episode of the reality TV show "Ryan and Tatum: The O'Neals."
O'Neal says Warhol gave the painting to him. But lawyers for the university maintain the portrait is school property because Fawcett agreed through her living trust to donate all her artwork to the university.
The 72-year-old actor is countersuing for a cloth napkin covered with hearts and signed by Warhol.
In a surprise appearance, one of Fawcett's "Charlie's Angels" co-stars, Jaclyn Smith, attended the day's court session in support of O'Neal.