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Farrah Fawcett’s bequest of art collection spurs probate dispute

Farrah Fawcett passed away at the age of 62 after a fight with cancer. Though the specifics of her estate plan are not public, one part of her wishes that have come to light involve the bequeath or her art collection to the University of Texas at Austin, her alma matter.

Of the valuable pieces of artwork that was allegedly included in Fawcett’s art collection, were two portraits of Farrah Fawcett completed by Andy Warhol. One of these portraits, however, was never handed over to the University of Texas.

The University hired a private investigator to uncover the whereabouts of the missing portrait, valued at an estimated $30 million. The portrait was seen on the wall of Fawcett’s longtime partner, Ryan O’Neal, during an airing of a TV reality show that was filmed at his home.

O’Neal claims that the portrait is his. He says that Warhol is a close personal friend who gave him the painting. O’Neal apparently kept the portrait after the couple split in 1997. O’Neal says he then gave the portrait to Fawcett to hold for him when his then-girlfriend took offense to it. However, O’Neal says that he always intended for his and Fawcett’s son to have the portrait.

The University disagrees and claims that, since they are the designated beneficiaries of Fawcett’s entire art collection, they are entitled to this Warhol portrait as well.

Now it will be up to a court to decide who is the rightful owner of this piece of art. The answer could have easily been designated in Fawcett’s bequest if the facts of the disagreement had been evident at the time it was drafted, but now it will be determined through litigation or a settlement between the parties. Will it be Ryan O’Neal or the University of Texas?

Source: KUT News, “UT, Ryan O’Neal in Court Over Warhol Portrait of Farrah Fawcett,” Well Dunbar, Nov. 27, 2012