The legal battle for an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett resumed Monday as the late actress’ longtime partner Ryan O’Neal took the witness stand in a lawsuit with her alma mater, the University of Texas.
At the center of the dispute is a mostly black-and-white portrait featuring Fawcett with gazing turquoise eyes and wearing bright red lipstick. The university has a duplicate of the painting already, and is suing for the twin portrait in O’Neal’s possession.
O’Neal said in court Monday that he negotiated with Warhol for the two paintings -- one each for Fawcett and O’Neal -- and that his hung above his bed in Malibu for 18 years before he gave it back to Fawcett because it made a woman he was having an affair with uncomfortable.
O'Neal said after the couple reconciled in 2001, Fawcett gave the portrait back.
The university alleges O’Neal took the painting from Fawcett’s condo after her death in 2009, despite a living trust set up by the actress which specified that all artwork and any objects of art she owned should be given to the university upon her death.
In its suit, the university said they want the painting back or O’Neal should be made to pay them $12 million.
In a countersuit, O'Neal is also demanding a napkin drawing by Warhol that the university acquired after Fawcett’s death. The drawing, on display in Houston, contains a pair of split hearts signed to Fawcett and O’Neal.
An appraisal of the Fawcett portrait during testimony in November put the value at about $600,000.
O’Neal was expected to return to the stand Monday afternoon.