Ryan O’Neal won a major victory in court when a jury decided that he should be able to keep the 30-year-old Andy Warhol silkscreen of his longtime love Farrah Fawcett, even though the University of Texas claimed that the actress left the painting to the school in her will.
The actor went on the “Today” show Monday (Dec. 23) with his lawyer, Martin Singer, to discuss the case. He told Savannah Guthrie that he’s grateful the decision was in his favor because the painting is an invaluable part of his life — he even talks to it every day. “Well, I talked to her this morning about doing your show. She said I could do it,” O’Neal tells Guthrie.
He also says Fawcett wanted him to go to court. “I know that she would’ve said ‘Fight for me! Fight for this painting! She would’ve told me that,” O’Neal says.
While the court battle dug up some nasty memories from his past, O’Neal says it was worth it — especially because the painting had belonged to him all along. “She didn’t have to say anything about the portrait being mine [in her will] because it was mine from the day we got them,” he says. “One was mine and one was hers.”
O’Neal couldn’t make it to the courthouse to hear the verdict because he was having surgery at the time, which made for a very bizarre reaction when he found out what had happened. “My son Patrick called me from the courthouse,” he says. “He texted me. I was lying on an operating table. There was blood running down the side of my face and then there were tears running down the side of my face mixing with the blood. It was a pretty amazing moment for me.”
Winning the artwork was not a monetary victory, because the portrait is sentimental to O’Neal and his family. “It will never be sold,” he says. “It will go on to her son Redmond and his children and his children. … It was always invaluable to us. She was a wonderful woman, and this is what was left. That’s all that was left.”