Actor Ryan O'Neal testified Wednesday that a coveted Andy Warhol portrait of his longtime partner Farrah Fawcett was always intended to be his and he has an important connection with it. He said he speaks to it.
The University of Texas, Fawcett's alma mater, is suing O'Neal for the portrait, according to The Associated Press
. Fawcett, who died of cancer in 2009, left all of her artwork to the university.
O'Neal claims, along with some of Fawcett's closest friends, that it was understood that O'Neal was the owner of the Warhol painting and took the artwork legally shortly after the actress's death, the AP reported.
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"I talk to it," O'Neal said in court Wednesday, explaining his connection with the portrait. "I talk to her. It's her presence. Her presence in my life. In her son's life."
While O'Neal professed an emotional attachment to the portrait, it is also a significant financial asset, per the AP. An art expert from the University of Texas told the court last week the portrait is worth up to $12 million.
The court is expected to hear from contemporary art appraiser Karen McManus, who estimates the artwork to be from $800,000 to $1 million.
According to the Los Angeles Times
, O'Neal testified that he and the famed artist Warhol were friends and he promised the painting to him during a phone conversation.
"(Andy) said (Farrah) could keep the portrait he was going to paint for her, and I said, 'Good,' and he said he would give one to me too," O'Neal said in court.
O'Neal told the court that his daughter, Tatum, was present when Warhol photographed Fawcett for the portrait. He said when the couple picked up the paintings in New York, Warhol had one for each of them.
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O'Neal said the one given to Fawcett is currently with the University of Texas. He told the court that he would like to pass the portrait on to the couple's son Redmond, 28.
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