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Published: Monday, 11/18/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

Who owns portrait?

Dispute over Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett hits courts

Warhol's portrait of Farrah Fawcett. Warhol's portrait of Farrah Fawcett.
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LOS ANGELES — Andy Warhol’s artwork has always grabbed attention and sparked discussion, but one of his portraits of Farrah Fawcett is about to receive scrutiny of a different kind in a Los Angeles courtroom.

The case centers on a relatively simple question: does one of Warhol’s depictions of Fawcett belong to her longtime lover, Ryan O’Neal, or should it join its twin at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin?

To decide the case, jurors will hear testimony and see evidence focused on Warhol and O’Neal’s friendship, his relationship with Fawcett, and the actress’ final wishes. The panel will likely get insight into Warhol’s creation of the Fawcett image, which was based on a Polaroid photo the artist took of the Charlie’s Angels star in 1980.

The image, one of the main attractions in a 2011 exhibit on portraiture at UT’s Blanton Museum of Art, features an unsmiling Fawcett looking out from the canvas. Warhol painted her lips red and her eyes green in an otherwise uncolored image.

Jury selection in the trial is expected to begin this week, with O’Neal and possibly Fawcett’s Charlie’s Angels co-star Jaclyn Smith taking the witness stand. On Wednesday, when lawyers will argue what evidence will be admitted during the trial, which is expected to take two weeks.

Fawcett decreed in her will that all her artwork go to the school, yet O’Neal insists that Warhol gave him a copy of the portrait as a gift and it belongs to him.



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