The case of Farrah Fawcett’s Warhol portrait: Call Charlie’s Angels
BY MARIA RECIO
WASHINGTON — Farrah Fawcett, iconic beauty. Ryan O’Neal, leading man. Andy Warhol, enfant terrible.
What could be missing from this 1970s soap opera?
It turns out that a very valuable Warhol painting of Fawcett allegedly is missing – and very much at the center of a tabloid-frenzied drama involving all three, even though Fawcett and Warhol are deceased.
Who owns the 1980 portrait of Fawcett by Warhol, done in his signature silk-screen pop art style, showing her with bright green eyes, eye makeup and red, red lips? O’Neal, her partner for many years, has it and says it’s his, but no less than the University of Texas Board of Regents is suing him, saying it’s missing from her bequest to her alma mater.
The drama will play out in Los Angeles Superior Court starting Wednesday, in a two-week trial with an all-star cast, including O’Neal; his son with Fawcett, Redmond O’Neal; celebrity Alana Stewart; and Fawcett’s fellow “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith on the witness list.
To ramp up the voltage, O’Neal has a celebrity attorney, Martin Singer, described by The New York Times as “guard dog to the stars.”
Fawcett died of cancer in 2009 at age 62. She left all her artworks in her living trust to the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied before going to Hollywood in 1968 to become a model and actress.
But unbeknown to the university, a painting was missing. To the school’s surprise, it discovered there was not one Warhol painting of Fawcett, but two – the artist had painted nearly identical portraits at the same time – and they’d been in her Los Angeles home. The tipster was Fawcett’s secret Texas boyfriend. Only one of the “twin” portraits made it to Austin with her extensive art collection, where it’s on display at the university’s Blanton Museum of Art.