Published by Associated Press December 06, 2013

Andy Warhol portrait appraised by Lee Drexler for celebrity case

Farrah Fawcett
LOS ANGELES – An Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett currently held by actor Ryan O’Neal is worth an estimated $12 million, an appraiser told a jury Friday.

New York art appraiser Lee Drexler testified in a lawsuit by the University of Texas at Austin against the actor in which the school is seeking to gain possession of the Fawcett portrait for its art museum.

O’Neal contends the artwork was given to him as a gift by Warhol and did not belong to Fawcett when she died in 2009. The “Charlie’s Angels” star left all her artwork to the university; her gift included another version of the Warhol portrait.

Drexler was the university’s final witness in its principal case, which started with opening statements Nov. 25. Her estimate could be used by a jury to award damages if it finds that O’Neal improperly took the artwork after Fawcett, his longtime partner, died.

Drexler said because of Fawcett’s fame and beauty, Warhol’s portrait of her was extraordinary. She noted the artist’s works remain hot sellers and said the average auction price for one of his pieces is $7.5 million.

“This is not average,” Drexler said of the silkscreen portrait Warhol crafted from Polaroid pictures he shot of Fawcett. “This painting makes your eyes pop. It’s magnificent. It’s just a gorgeous painting.”