Farrah Fawcett's Prized Possession Had Controversy Booming After Her Death

When it comes to '70s icons, few loom larger than Farrah Fawcett. While probably best known for playing Jill Monroe for just one season on the television show "Charlie's Angels," and of course that one infamous poster that hung on every teenage boy's room back in 1976 (via Biography), Farrah's trademark big blonde hair launched a cultural revolution still being felt today.

Back in 1980, at the height of Fawcett's notoriety, her then-husband actor Ryan O'Neal arranged a meeting between the actress and renowned "pop" artist Andy Warhol (via The Texas Orator). During that meeting, Warhol photographed the star and would go on to create nearly identical paintings of her. According to CNN, O'Neal was quoted as saying about the meeting: "There was no easel, no paint. There was just this strange dentist's Polaroid camera. He just snapped her at different turns, maybe 25 shots. It took longer to do her hair." 

A few weeks later, Warhol gave the couple both a portrait to keep. According to O'Neal (via CNN), Warhol "...said she could keep the portrait he would paint of her and I could keep mine..."

a troubled relationship

In June of 2009, Farrah Fawcett died after a long battle with cancer (via Legacy). According to Far Out Magazine, the actress's will specified the entirety of her personal art collection, which included the Andy Warhol portraits, would be bequeathed to the her alma mater, the University of Texas, leaving nothing behind for ex-husband Ryan O'Neal (via The Texas Orator). 

The pair had a tumultuous relationship over the years. In 1997, after allegations of abuse, Farrah and O'Neal officially split. Although never married, the couple had a son together, Redmond, in 1985. They would eventually go on to rekindle their relationship in 2001, shortly after O'Neal was diagnosed with Leukemia (via Fox News). 

According to Far Out Magazine, after the couple split in '97, O'Neal gave his portrait of Farrah to the actress, due to the fact that O'Neal's female companions found the 40 in x 40 in silk screen image hanging in this bedroom, troublesome. Shortly after the actress's death, O'Neal allegedly removed the portrait from Farrah's house, claiming it was his all along (via Far Out Magazine). The University of Texas, however, did not quite agree with O'Neal's assessment of the situation.

a legacy or just greed

Believing they were the rightful heirs to the Andy Warhol paintings, the University of Texas sued O'Neal in 2011 (via CNN). Insisting that Warhol handed him one of the paintings (via CNN), Ryan O'Neal countersued the University, stating he was the rightful owner of the painting and was keeping it for their son, Redmond (via The Texas Orator).

In 2013, the case went to trial, with arguments resting on who actually owned the painting. The problem with ownership of the painting in this case is that there were no documents, receipts, or any kind of notes indicating the painting switched hands (via CNN). After O'Neal stated that he "talks to the painting (via The Texas Orator)," the jury ruled in favor of the actor. 

O'Neal in turn reached an out-of-court settlement with the university, in exchange for retaining the infamous painting. As of 2019, O'Neal was trying to sell the painting he had loved so. Initially appraised between $21 and $24 million, O'Neal was originally asking for $20 million. With no takers, the actor has since dropped his asking price to a paltry $18 million (via Wonderwall).  The Warhol painting owned by the University of Texas currently resides at the Blanton Museum of Art.