O’Neal had been locked in legal battle with the University of Texas, which sued the actor, claiming that it had the rights to the painting after Fawcett bequeathed her art collection to the school, which she attended before gaining fame.
A similar portrait by Warhol is in the university’s collection, and the school had contended that Fawcett intended for both portraits to go to the university. (Fawcett died in 2009.)
However, a jury ruled 9-3 in favor of the “Paper Moon” actor.
The contested portrait hangs in O’Neal’s bedroom in his Malibu house and was discovered by the university after it showed up in an episode of a reality show starring O’Neal.
A Hollywood golden couple, O’Neal and Fawcett never married, but they had an off-and-on relationship that spanned three decades and produced a son. They rekindled their relationship shortly before her death from cancer at the age 62.
In testimony in court, the 72-year-old O’Neal maintained that Warhol was a friend and had given him the portrait and that Fawcett and her friends acknowledged his ownership.
Fawcett’s “Charlie’s Angels” co-star Jaclyn Smith also testified in favor of O’Neal, saying that she knew that was what Fawcett would have wanted.
O’Neal’s lawyer said in court that the portrait by Warhol, a pioneer of pop art who died in 1987 at the age of 58, was worth about $800,000 to $1 million. The appraiser hired by the university and who testified in the case put its value at an estimated $12 million.
(Reporting Eric Kelsey; writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)