Closing arguments expected in UT lawsuit over Fawcett painting

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by TINA SHIVELY / KVUE News & Photojournalist SCOTT GUEST

khou.com

Posted on December 13, 2013 at 12:18 PM

LOS ANGELES -- Closing arguments are expected Friday in the Los Angeles trial of a lawsuit filed by the University of Texas.

The debate is over a portrait of the late Farrah Fawcett. The school believes it should be in its collection in Austin.

The artwork is a silkscreen portrait of the actress, one of two done by famous artist Andy Warhol. The other is at UT's Blanton Museum of Art.

UT is suing Fawcett's longtime partner actor Ryan O'Neal for the artwork, filing the lawsuit in 2011. The suit claims Fawcett left all her artwork to her alma mater, and that O'Neal took the portrait out of her house without permission days after Fawcett's death in 2009.

O'Neal disagrees. He says he had permission from Fawcett's estate to take the artwork, and now he considers it a family heirloom he plans to leave to the couple's son, Redmond.

Redmond O'Neal told reporters in Los Angeles, "This portrait is a family heirloom, it has no money value to me. It is sentimental, it has to stay in the family. It belongs where it is."

Ryan O'Neal told a jury that the portrait is one of his deepest connections to his longtime partner. He added Warhol made one for Fawcett and one for himself, and that he shouldn't have to hand it over to the actress' alma mater.

An appraiser hired by the university says the portrait could be worth up to $12 million.

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