Actor Ryan O'Neal told a jury on Monday that he is the rightful owner of an Andy Warhol celebrity portrait that hangs over his bed. It is of the woman he considers the love of his life, "Charlie's Angels" star Farrah Fawcett.
Fawcett, who died of cancer in 2009, bequeathed her art collection to her alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin; the university is accusing O'Neal of stealing away with its Warhol.
“The portrait, as seen in the reality show "Chasing Farrah," is one of two similar prints Warhol created in 1980. The other is on display in the university's art museum, leading O'Neal's lawyer to believe the suit is financially motivated,” reports CNN’s Zoraida Sambolin.
“O'Neal says, he just wants to pass down the heirloom to their son, Redmond, which a Los Angeles jury will have to decide,” she says.
"The painting is mine," testified the 72-year-old actor, who rose to fame as the impossibly handsome star of the 1960s television soap opera "Peyton Place" and the 1970 film "Love Story."
He admitted taking the portrait, a striking black and white print with ruby red lips and turquoise eyes, from a wall outside the bedroom of Fawcett's Wilshire Boulevard condominium about a week after her death on June 25, 2009.
"I removed the painting a week or more after she died," he testified.
The portrait now hangs over O'Neal's bed at his Malibu beach house - just as it did from 1980 until 1998.
Over the heated objections of O'Neal's lawyer, Marty Singer, the jury heard about how the portrait came to leave the beach house in the wake of the couple's infamous "falling out" in February 1997. The love affair between two baby boomer icons hit an extremely rough patch when she walked in on him in bed with a much younger woman.
"About a year after the incident I asked her to keep the portrait with her, store it for me, because my young friend was uncomfortable with Farrah staring at her," O'Neal testified.
Fawcett's response, according to his testimony: "I'd like you to leave it there because I want to make her uncomfortable."
By the time Fawcett moved into her L.A. condo in 1999, she had possession of the Warhol portrait - as well as a twin print Warhol created at the same time. O'Neal insisted they reconciled a couple of years later. "She forgave me."
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