Courtesy Blanton Museum of Art

The ownership of a portrait of Farrah Fawcett done by Andy Warhol is at the center of a legal battle between Ryan O'Neal and the University of Texas

November 18, 2013 01:00 PM

A portrait of Farrah Fawcett by Andy Warhol is at the center of a legal battle playing out in Los Angeles.

The portrait, which is based on a Polaroid Warhol took of Fawcett in 1980, was one of the main attractions in a 2011 exhibit on portraiture at the University of Texas’s Blanton Museum of Art. Warhol’s portrait is black and white; only Fawcett’s red lips and green eyes are colored. Fawcett studied art at the university in the 1960s, which is presumably why she decreed in her will that all her artwork go to the school.

Fawcett’s longtime lover, Ryan O’Neal, however, holds that Warhol gave him a copy of the portrait as a gift, and that it should remain with him. His lawyers contend that “O’Neal’s Warhol portrait is an heirloom” and that “he never intends to, nor will sell it.” O’Neal is also counter-suing the university for the return of a cloth napkin Warhol doodled hearts on and gifted to O’Neal and Fawcett.

“We simply want to honor and respect the charitable intent and wishes of Farrah Fawcett,” UT’s Vice Chancellor for External Relations Randa S. Safady said in a statement. “It is indisputable that in Ms. Fawcett’s living trust, she named the University of Texas at Austin as the sole beneficiary of all of her works of art, including artwork she created and all objects of art that she owned, for charitable purposes.”

Below is the Polaroid that inspired the portrait.

Farrah Fawcett, a Polaroid portrait by artist Andy Warhol, is displayed at Sotheby's during a preview of The Polaroid Collection, in New York, June 16, 2010.
Emmanuel Dunand/Getty

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