UT Loses Battle Over Farrah Fawcett Portrait


It’s just not UT’s week.

In addition to a heartbreaking volleyball loss in last night’s NCAA Semifinals, The University of Texas also suffered a blow in a Los Angeles courtroom yesterday.

For the past month, the University has been battling bad-boy actor Ryan O’Neal in an attempt to repossess an Andy Warhol portrait of alumna Farrah Fawcett. On Thursday, the jury came back with its verdict, siding with O’Neal, her on-and-off lover of 30 years.

Upon her death from cancer in 2009, the Charlie’s Angels actress bequeathed her art collection to the University, where she studied as an artist in the 1960s. Currently, one of Warhol’s portraits of Fawcett hangs in UT’s Blanton Museum of Art. Its companion, however, was only discovered in 2011 after O’Neal’s daughter, Tatum, revealed its existence in a memoir. She said the second portrait was hanging in her father’s house.

In a statement yesterday, UT officials explained why they’d gone to bat for the second work of art.

“We sought the second Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett only because we wanted to honor her legacy,” they said. “In her Living Trust she left ‘all of her artwork and objects’ to The University of Texas, and we thought it important to try and enforce her intent.”

During the monthlong trial, O’Neal testified that Warhol had given him one of the works for arranging the portrait session with Fawcett. He also stated that the portrait was his closest connection to the late actress, and that he talks to it regularly.

“We are disappointed that the jury saw the evidence in a different way,” UT’s statement continues, “but we will continue to honor Farrah with the Warhol portrait we do have along with her other works of art.”

“Farrah Fawcett” by Andy Warhol. Courtesy the Blanton Museum of Art.


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