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Washington, DC trusts: Who has Farrah Fawcett's missing painting?

Washington, DC celebrity followers may remember that Farrah Fawcett died in 2009 at the age of 62 from cancer. Many people use living trusts as part of their estate planning, and Fawcett was no exception. As part of her will, she bequeathed all of the artwork she owned that she put into her living trust to a university.

Part of the collection the university received was a portrait of Fawcett done by Andy Warhol. It wasn't until recently that the university discovered that painting had a twin that wasn't included in the artwork it received. It was later discovered that actor Ryan O'Neal was in possession of the second Warhol painting.

The University of Texas at Austin filed suit against O'Neal demanding he turn over the painting. O'Neal filed a countersuit alleging that the second Warhol never belonged to Fawcett. He claims Warhol painted one portrait for each of them.

At one point, O'Neal claims he asked Fawcett to keep his copy of the painting because it made his new girlfriend uncomfortable. Years later, O'Neal says he reclaimed the painting and it has been in his home ever since. The university is not buying O'Neal's version of events.

Many of the witnesses in this case have been asked to provide testimony for both sides. It will be up to the court to determine who is the rightful owner of the painting. These types of disputes over trusts happen more often than people in Washington, DC might think, particularly once the maker of the living trust passes away. In some cases, the only way to resolve the conflict is through litigation.

Source: kansascity.com, The case of Farrah Fawcett's missing Warhol portrait: Call Charlie's Angels, Maria Recio, Nov. 12, 2013

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