Ryan O’Neal Testifies In Art War Trial -- I ‘Talk' To Farrah Fawcett’s Warhol Portrait

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Dec. 12 2013, Published 1:54 p.m. ET

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Ryan O’Neal testified that he communicates with his late flame,Farrah Fawcett, through an Andy Warhol-drawn sketch of the actress that hangs in his Malibu home and is the subject of an ownership fight between him and the University of Texas at Austin, has learned.

“I look at it and I talk to her,” O’Neal said. “It's her presence in my life, my son's life. We lost her and it would be a crime to lose it too.”

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The 72-year-old actor took the stand for the second time in the Los Angeles Superior Court trial of a lawsuit brought by the University of Texas in an effort to obtain the second of two Fawcett portraits sketched by the iconic artist in 1980. The school has one of them and wants the other to display them side-by-side in a university art museum.

Under questioning by his attorney, Martin Singer, O'Neal said he also wants the school to return a drawing with hearts that Warhol created in tribute to the actor and Fawcett.

“He saw how Farrah and I had fallen in love and he wanted to express what it meant to him,'' O’Neal said.

O'Neal said he was “in a state of shock'' before Fawcett's death and for months afterward, so he was unaware that Richard Francis, the trustee for Fawcett's living trust, gave the tablecloth drawing to the UT.

“I would have balked,'' O'Neal said.

O'Neal, who became emotional at times, narrated as Singer displayed for the jury photos of the actor at his home with the Warhol portrait on the wall.

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He said he and his daughter Tatum were present when Warhol took photos of Fawcett at the artist's “factory” in preparation for the paintings.

“There was just this strange, dentist's Polaroid camera,'' he said.

The paintings were completed two weeks later and Warhol presented them to O'Neal and Fawcett, mother of his son Redmond, the actor said.

O'Neal quoted Warhol, who died in 1987, as saying, “This is for you, Farrah, and this is for you, Ryan.”

Andy Warhol

The school sued O'Neal in August 2011, after the disputed Warhol portrait of the actor's longtime love was seen in his home during an episode of the reality TV show Ryan and Tatum: The O'Neals.

O'Neal says Warhol gave the second Fawcett painting to him. But lawyers for the university maintain the portrait is school property because Fawcett agreed through her living trust to donate all her artwork to the university, which she attended for three years in the 1960s.

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Fawcett, who left the school before graduating when her acting career took off, died of cancer in June 2009 at the age of 62.

The six-man, six-woman Los Angeles Superior Court jury also will decide whether the Warhol tablecloth drawing that O'Neal is demanding from the school through his cross-complaint belongs to him or the university.

O'Neal said in previous testimony that he kept the portrait at his Malibu home from 1980 until 1998, but allowed Fawcett to take it with her to museum exhibitions with her Warhol sketch from time to time. However, Fawcett let herself into his home in 1997 and caught him with another woman, he said.

He said he later asked Fawcett to take the painting and keep it for him.

An unexpected delay in the proceedings occurred today when Judge William MacLaughlin received the second of two juror notes complaining that one panel member was writing notes in the courtroom on pieces of paper, stuffing them in his pockets and then taking them outside during recesses.

MacLaughlin said he saw enough today from the juror to convince him the panelist should be questioned. He did so with the attorneys and the juror in chambers, after which the trial resumed with the panelist still in his seat.

Redmond O’Neal is scheduled to testify Thursday.



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