Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Curious Case of Farrah Fawcett’s Andy Warhol Portrait

It comes across as an episode of Law and Order. It has all the elements: a priceless piece of modern art, an iconic actress who tragically passed away a sleazy ex-lover, a former quarterback, and a respected university.

It all started after Farrah Fawcett passes away and left all her artwork to her alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin. Her art collection included two portraits that the late Andy Warhol made of her. Created in 1980, the stunning paintings consist of synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas. One portrait already found its home in the University's Blanton Museum of Art. It’s the other one that is creating a legal and media storm.

The second portrait is currently in the possession of Ryan O’Neal, the former partner of the popular actress. O’Neal claims that Warhol painted one portrait as a gift for Farrah and the other one for him. He went on to state that although he handed over his one to Farrah, it was not a change of ownership.

O”Neil admits that “his” portrait normally hang in his Malibu beach house. He claims that when he was cheating on Farrah with another woman, his new lover told him that Farrah’s portrait made her “uncomfortable” - quite understandable considering the piercing eyes. He further stated that he therefore gave the portrait to Farrah to keep it for him.

The Texas Board of Regents wholeheartedly disagreed. Since the University of Texas is entitled to all art works formally owned by Ms. Fawcett, it promptly sued O’Neal stating: "The Warhol portrait is an irreplaceable piece of art for which legal damages could not fully compensate."

David Beck, lead counsel for the University of Texas, is planning to call some high-profile witnesses including Fawcett's former college sweetheart and Longhorns quarterback Greg Lott, Fawcett and O'Neal's son Redmond O'Neal, Fawcett's best friend Alana Stewart, and Farrah’s "Charlie's Angels" co-star Jaclyn Smith.

Stay tuned!

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