Ryan O'Neal Defends Taking Farrah Fawcett Warhol Portrait

O'Neal took the witness stand in legal battle over Andy Warhol artwork.

December 03, 2013, 1:43 AM

Dec. 3, 2013— -- Actor Ryan O'Neal told a jury that it "wasn't a secret" he removed an Andy Warhol portrait of his late, long-time girlfriend Farrah Fawcett from her home shortly after her death because he owns the painting.

"The painting is mine," O'Neal told the jury at Los Angeles Superior Court Monday. But the University of Texas at Austin claims that the portrait is part of the artwork that Fawcett left to her alma mater.

"They just want expensive art," O'Neal's attorney, Martin Singer, said of the University of Texas.

O'Neal, 72, choked back tears in court remembering his late love and his fight to keep her portrait, which is estimated to be worth in the millions. O'Neal says the portrait is laden with sentimental value and he would never sell it. O'Neal told jurors his estate documents call for it to be passed down to the couple's only child, Redmond O'Neal.

David Beck, an attorney for the University of Texas, questioned O'Neal about a 1997 incident in which Fawcett caught O'Neal in bed with a 25-year-old woman. At the time, the artwork hung over O'Neal's bed, but he claims he asked Fawcett to store the portrait at her place.

"My young friend was uncomfortable with Farrah staring at her," he told the court.

The portrait remained at Fawcett's condo until her death in June 2009 from cancer at the age of 62. O'Neal removed the artwork soon after.

Beck questioned whether the actor ever discussed removing the portrait with anyone, including a trustee charged with carrying out Fawcett's final wishes.

"Of course I did," O'Neal said. "I'm sure I did. It wasn't a secret."

The "Love Story" star claims he and Fawcett reconciled in 2001 after he was diagnosed with cancer.

"I got diagnosed with cancer. I called her. And it broke the ice," O'Neal testified.

Warhol created two versions of the Fawcett portrait in 1980 – one that is currently in O'Neal's home and the other is on display at the university's Blanton Museum of Art in Austin.

O'Neal told the court that he asked the iconic artist to create two versions because he and Fawcett kept separate homes.

ABC News' Anthony Castellano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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