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Farrah Fawcett portrait lawsuit: 1st witnesses due

University of Texas attorney David Beck is seen in this court sketch Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (Sketch by Mona S. Edwards)

November 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The first witnesses in a lawsuit over an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett are expected in court Tuesday.

The University of Texas at Austin, Fawcett's alma mater, is suing to get the Warhol work from actor Ryan O'Neal, Fawcett's long time companion. A jury of six men and six women will decide who the rightful owner is. Opening arguments began Monday.

O'Neal claims Warhol did two portraits of Fawcett in 1980 and gave one to him and one to Fawcett. The university says Fawcett owned both portraits and she left all of her artwork to them. One portrait is on display at the university, while the coveted piece is on display in O'Neal's beachside home.

Each side in the case says they have evidence that proves they should have the portrait in question. University lawyers said Fawcett repeatedly claimed she was the portrait's owner before she died of cancer in 2009. University lawyer David Beck also said O'Neal was left "nothing" in the actress' living trust, even though she could have changed it at any time.

Marty Singer, O'Neal's lawyer, shot back at Beck's claims about Fawcett's living trust. He said the actress meant to give the university art she created, and not art she purchased. Singer also said two of the university's witnesses dislike O'Neal.

Singer says that O'Neal was good friends with Warhol, who had also gifted O'Neal other paintings, and all he would like to do is give the portrait to Redmond, the couple's only child.

Singer also mentioned the University of Texas estimated the portrait is worth $12 million, but his appraisal comes up to just under $1 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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