The University of Texas will remember 2013 as a year in which it gained a national spotlight due to litigation. One case went to the Supreme Court and involved the future of affirmative action in university admissions. The other case determined the legal ownership of a painting of a famous UT alumna by a legendary pop artist.
The lawsuit pitted the university against actor Ryan O’Neal, who claimed ownership of an Andy Warhol painting featuring actress Farrah Fawcett, with whom O’Neal had an on-again, off-again relationship beginning in 1979 until her passing in 2009. The university maintained that it had sole possession of all artwork from Fawcett’s collection per her will, but O’Neal stated in his testimony that Warhol had gifted one painting to Fawcett and another to O’Neal.
On Thursday, December 19, a jury at the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled in favor of television and film actor Ryan O’Neal’s attempt to keep a portrait by Andy Warhol of Fawcett. On Monday morning, O’Neal appeared on Today to give his own statement about the court decision, and it’s a must-watch if you're in the mood to watch something that’s slightly cringe.
Appearing alongside his attorney — who only seems to be joining in for the pleasure of suffering through some awkward silences — O’Neal stumbles through his interview with statements about blood mixing with tears and that Fawcett gave him permission to appear on the show. He also claims that the lawsuit was due to him having enemies who informed the university regents of the second painting and its worth.
Despite likely having personal wealth in the multimillion-dollar range, O’Neal contends that it will stay in the family, passing on to his and Fawcett’s only son, Redmond. It might be easy to get cynical with a Hollywood family with a history of drug abuse and arrests, but for now it’s best to just stick with believing this painting may help a troubled family remember a mother’s legacy.