Farrah Fawcett was the face of the ’70s; with her all-American good looks and gleaming smile, she was an icon from the moment she struck that famous “Charlie’s Angels” pose. Now, a highly-sought after piece of art bearing her likeness is caught in the middle of a legal battle, and it’s hard to say who will come out the victor.
The artwork is a silkscreen done by none other than Andy Warhol, which puts the value somewhere in the $30 million range, and Fawcett’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, actor Ryan O’Neal, says it was given to him before she died in 2009. However, the University of Texas claims the actress wanted all her artwork donated to them and had it put in a living trust.
O’Neal may have a hard time proving the piece belongs to him, but has garnered a list of celebrity names to take the stand during the court battle, including his son with Fawcett, Redmond O’Neal; celebrity Alana Stewart; and Fawcett’s former co-star, Jaclyn Smith.
“It may come down to how good of an actor Mr. O’Neal is,” said probate and estate attorney Kenneth Ostrove. “If he can play out that emotional side of it, be believable.”
The actor says that he was in possession of the artwork until the late ’90s, when a woman he was dating at the time objected to it being hung on the wall at his home. He says he took it down and gave it back to Fawcett with the condition that he would be back for it.
“And the reason I gave it to her is because there was a new woman in my life and the painting was making her uncomfortable; that Farrah seemed to be staring down at her,” O’Neal said in a deposition in August 2012. “And so I said, ‘Well, I can fix that.’ I took it to Farrah and said ‘Keep this for me. I’ll be back.’”
The trial begins today in Los Angeles Superior Court.