A reality television producer has told a Los Angeles jury he believes actor Ryan O’Neal stole an Andy Warhol portrait of his former partner Farrah Fawcett.
Craig Nevius said he formed his opinion based on conversations with the late actress and seeing the disputed Warhol portrait in her home.
The producer told the University of Texas of his concerns and it sued Love Story star O’Neal to gain possession of the artwork.
The university claims in its lawsuit that Fawcett left the painting to the school as part of a donation but O’Neal took it days after her death in 2009.
Mr Nevius also said he saw documents regarding ownership that Fawcett had signed when she loaned the portrait and a twin version also by Warhol to a museum.
“I believe he stole it,” he said about O’Neal. “I believe she owned it.”
O’Neal’s lawyer attacked the credibility of Mr Nevius, noting the producer had been removed from an NBC documentary about Fawcett’s battle with cancer and had been involved in several lawsuits against O’Neal.
O’Neal says he had permission from the trustee of Fawcett’s estate to remove the artwork and it was a gift from Warhol for helping to set up the portrait session with the Charlie’s Angels star.
“The painting is mine,” O’Neal previously told jurors.
Mr Nevius said he was unaware that O’Neal had been granted permission to take the artwork when he began lobbying the university to pursue a criminal case a.
Mr Nevius was quizzed about his campaign against the O’Neal, which included two unsuccessful attempts to get the Warhol painting officially classed as part of Fawcett’s estate.
O’Neal has sued Mr Nevius for defamation in a separate case that is pending.
Mr Nevius told the court he believed O’Neal and others close to Fawcett conspired to remove him from a documentary project that NBC showed on her fight with cancer.