Ryan O’Neal testified Wednesday that an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett, the actor's longtime love, was given to him by the artist himself and is considered a family heirloom.
The 72-year-old actor took the stand for the second time in a trial that pits him against the University of Texas at Austin, which is attempting to claim the portrait for its Blanton Museum of Art. Before her 2009 death, Fawcett bequeathed her artwork to the school.
But O’Neal said he and Warhol were friends for years and that the painting in question was first promised to him in a phone conversation.
“[Andy] said [Farrah] could keep the portrait he was going to paint for her, and I said, ‘Good,’ and he said he would give one to me too,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal and his daughter, Tatum, were present when Warhol photographed Fawcett for the portrait, he said.
Later, O'Neal said, the couple went to pick up the paintings at Warhol’s New York studio, and he was handed one and Fawcett was handed another.
The latter is now in the university’s possession. The other hangs above O’Neal’s bed in his Malibu home.
“I talk to it, I talk to her,” he said in court, his voice growing quiet. “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.”
O’Neal said he wants the painting to one day go to their 28-year-old son, Redmond.
An art appraiser testifying for the defense said Wednesday that the fair market value of the Fawcett painting as of June 2009 was $800,000 to $1 million -- a sharp contrast to the $12-million figure given by an art appraiser called earlier by the plaintiff.