Actor Ryan O’Neal is suing the former trustee of Farrah Fawcett’s living trust over a protracted legal battle with the University of Texas for possession of an Andy Warhol portrait of the late actress.
O’Neal, 74, alleges that accountant Richard Bernard Francis put his interests ahead of those of O’Neal, for whom Francis worked for decades as the actor’s business manager.
The suit filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court seeks unspecified damages from Francis, who could not be immediately reached for comment.
Both O’Neal and Fawcett had Warhol paintings of the actress. Before she died of cancer in June 2009, Fawcett bequeathed all of her original artwork, as well as a second Warhol portrait of the actress that also was created by the artist in 1980, to the university that the Texas-born beauty attended for several years in the 1960s.
O’Neal’s suit alleges that when the University of Texas threatened to sue Francis to obtain the actor’s Fawcett portrait, Francis settled with the school rather than invoke a no-contest provision in the trust that would have forced the school to reconsider its legal move.
The trust’s no-contest provision “was a powerful tool to be used by the trustee against beneficiaries like UT who challenged the trustee’s actions,” the suit alleges.
By settling with the university, Francis escaped liability for himself and left it up to O’Neal to defend himself in the suit the UT brought against him for return of the portrait, the suit alleges.
In December 2013, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury found that O’Neal’s Warhol portrait of Fawcett belonged to him. O’Neal insisted the Warhol piece was given to him as a gift by the late artist and that Fawcett and her friends knew he was the owner when she died.
— Wire reports
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