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Jury Deciding Fate of Andy Warhol Portrait of Farrah Fawcett

Attorneys for Ryan O'Neal and the University of Texas at Austin give their final arguments in the school's lawsuit against the actor.

The Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett currently in Ryan O'Neal's possession hangs on the actress' living room wall in 2005 in a scene from "Chasing Farrah." Credit: YouTube
The Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett currently in Ryan O'Neal's possession hangs on the actress' living room wall in 2005 in a scene from "Chasing Farrah." Credit: YouTube

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.

Marvin Harrison December 17, 2013 at 01:25 AM
If Jacky is on his side then it must be his.
R Y A N December 17, 2013 at 03:06 PM
First of all, I am NOT related to anybody in this matter except by name. That said, why would a prominent artist make TWO similar, original works of art around the same time? They were for different recipients! The recipients had never married and had separate homes. While that may have been somewhat unusual at the time, Warhol was a progressive artist and didn’t have a problem with the obvious: two similar original works. The jury should understand why Warhol didn’t have a problem with it, the obvious “his and hers” concept of the era, and the palimony concept established in 1977. Third, while the two actors shared a son, death did not “marry” the parents, nor the Warhol works. After Farrah’s death, the work’s significance also changed to an acknowledgement of the relationship between the recipients BACK to their separate ways whilst the work became more a piece of Mr. O’Neal’s personal history and less intimidating his girlfriend. The last thing Andy would have consented to would be for the two art pieces to be hung side-by-side to be picked apart by some hack College Art Professors teaching Pop Art. This is not some Sesame Street exercise in compare and contrast; these pieces were “different” so that they could be enjoyed in different venues, by the recipients. You need to think like an artist to understand the entire concept and context. The University of Texas reveals it cannot think in an artistic manner, nor logical manner as to why there were “two” in the first place. I hope the jury sees through the University of Texas’ motives and acknowledges Mr. O’Neal’s claim of ownership because it makes the most sense – from the artist’s perspective, display perspective, and logical perspective. U.T.: go home. The portrait should remain “in the family” so that Redmond may someday inherit this representation of his mother. Farrah would want that for the father of, and eventually, her son for MANY logical, emotional, and rational reasons.

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