Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett belongs to Ryan O'Neal, jury finds

An Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett that has been the subject of a legal tussle in a Los Angeles court belongs to actor Ryan O’Neal, the star’s longtime boyfriend, a jury has found.

The panel sided with O’Neal over the University of Texas at Austin, the actress’ alma mater, which claimed the painting was bequeathed to the school along with her art collection at the time of Fawcett’s death in 2009. The trial over the 1980 painting lasted three weeks and became, in part, a scrutiny of O’Neal and Fawcett’s relationship.

The 72-year-old actor took the stand and said Warhol painted two similar portraits, giving one to Fawcett and one to him. The painting in question now hangs above his bed at his Malibu home.

“I talk to it, I talk to her,” he testified. “It’s her presence, her presence in my life, in her son’s life. We lost her; it seemed a crime to lose it too.”

Attorneys for the university argued Fawcett owned both paintings, and that the canvas in O’Neal’s possession now belonged to the school. They attempted to show the couple’s love faded in later years, calling to the stand a college boyfriend of Fawcett’s who said they had rekindled their romance before her death.

Art appraisers who testified in the trial gave dramatically different values for the artwork -- anywhere from $800,000 to $12 million.

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victoria.kim@latimes.com

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