Florida fans of actress Farrah Fawcett may be aware that there was litigation concerning her estate. The litigation was focused on one of the two portraits that artist Andy Warhol painted of the actress in 1980.
Fawcett’s last will and testament left her art collection to the University of Texas, her alma mater. The university was unaware that it had been left this collection, but it received one of the two Warhols as part of it. On learning of a second portrait that was in the possession of Fawcett’s longtime life partner Ryan O’Neal, the university pursued a claim for that as well.
O’Neal said that the portrait was given to him by Warhol and had never been in Fawcett’s possession. Witnesses backed up his version along with his claim that he had introduced Warhol and Fawcett. There was no paperwork associated with the painting, so witness testimony was all the court had to rely on. The court ruled in favor of O’Neal.
It is not unusual for there to be disputes about personal items after a person’s death. In this case, the time and cost of the litigation could have been avoided if Fawcett’s will had specifically named the portrait. Furthermore, had the university been informed of her intentions, an inventory could have been made.
Even when there are no serious disputes around an estate, an executor may need assistance with estate administration and probate. There may be financial and legal issues that the executor lacks the expertise to handle. If there are challenges to the will or other elements of the estate plan, an attorney may be able to advise the executor about how to proceed. These challenges could be because elements of the estate plan are unclear.
Source: Above The Law, “Post-Mortem Drama Continues For Farrah Fawcett Portraits Painted By Andy Warhol,” Cori Robinson, 4/19/2019