|Greg Lott and Farrah Fawcett, University of Texas|
Yet the painting worth up to £20million has also sparked a legal battle that threatens to turn Farrah’s fairy-tale romance with Love Story star Ryan O’Neal into little more than a sordid fable. The artwork has exposed O’Neal’s infi delity to Farrah and revealed her secret love affair with college sweetheart Greg Lott that endured through her tempestuous on -off romance with O’Neal. While Hollywood sighed at O’Neal’s apparently loving reunion with Farrah in her years battling cancer before her death in 2009 aged 62 Lott claims he was her only lover for the last 11 years of her life.
“It was an exclusive relationship, ” says Lott, 67, who has revealed an array of Farrah’s tender love letters. “She was with me.”
A celebrity-packed court case was set to begin in Los Angeles yesterday to determine ownership of the painting, hoping to unravel a mystery that might confound even the detective skills of Charlie’s Angels. At the centre of the drama is the portrait painted by Warhol in 1980: one of two almost identical images owned by Farrah. When she died the actress bequeathed all her artwork to the University of Texas, which she attended before fi nding fame in Hollywood. The university received one Warhol portrait of Farrah but was informed by Lott that Farrah had owned a second Warhol portrait that had gone missing.
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The university hired detectives who eventually found the Warhol portrait while watching TV: it was in a wall in Ryan O’Neal’s Malibu beachfront home, depicted in his reality series The O’Neals, about his fractious relationship with daughter Tatum. When the university sued O’Neal, claiming that he had taken its painting from Farrah’s home days after her death, he counter-sued insisting that it was a gift from Warhol that belonged to him and opened the floodgates to expose the tangled web of Farrah’s love life.
This week’s trial is expected to focus on her stormy romance with O’Neal. The longtime couple never wed, had son Redmond in 1985 and split up in 1997. "Thank you for making it so special. Great food, great weather, great sex, great, great you," Farrah Fawcett
O’Neal, 71, confessed in depositions that Farrah had caught him in bed with another woman in February 1997 and threw him out of their house. “She boxed a few things and sent them to me,” he admitted.
“I was so surprised. I was with her for 18 years. I only got four boxes, mostly shoes and video tapes.”
But O’Neal claims Farrah gave him one of her two Warhol portraits that he kept until his subsequent girlfriends disapproved of seeing Farrah smiling down on them and he tried to give it back to her “The reason I gave it to her is because there was a new woman in my life and the painting was making her uncomfortable that Farrah seemed to be staring at her,” he said. “And so I said, ‘Well, I can fi x that.’ I took it to Farrah and said, ‘Keep this for me. I’ll be back.’ ”
But Farrah enjoyed the idea that her portrait was tormenting O’Neal’s new lover and told him, “I don’t want it because I like it that she’s uncomfortable,” he claims. Only a year later did Farrah relent and agree to take back Ryan’s copy of the Warhol, he says. Though separated, Farrah and O’Neal remained friends and during her long battle with cancer he was often at her side, giving Hollywood the impression that their love story was never-ending.
But that was just a lie, claims Lott, who was a football star at the University of Texas and Farrah’s. Supporting the university’s claim that Farrah owned the Warhol picture and wanted it left to the college, Lott has revealed a secret romance they rekindled in 1997 and which endured until her death.
“She saw no one else and I saw no one else but her,” he says, dismissing the many poignant photos of a dying Farrah with O’Neal. “Photographs mean nothing. She was with me.” Lott revealed years of photographs and love letters between them during his pre-trial deposition. In one amorous note penned while Farrah flew back to Hollywood, she wrote: “Thank you for making it so special. Great food, great weather, great sex, great, great you.”
In another she wrote: “To find you and happiness again is something I will be for ever grateful for. You are my north, my south, my east and my west… I love you for ever and more, Farrah.” One Valentine’s Day she wrote: “Will you be my Valentine for 1999 and for ever, until the end of time?”
During a trip to Vienna with Redmond in 2003 she wrote to Lott: “I have been thinking of you the entire time and am waiting for Redmond to leave the room or my side long enough to call you.” A later note, written from her hospital bed in Germany where she sought a cancer cure in 2008, spoke sadly of her longing: “I miss you so much and sometimes the loneliness makes me cry.”
But in her dying days O’Neal stepped in and banned Farrah from seeing Lott against her will, the former lover claims.
“I wasn’t allowed to see her before she died or go to her funeral,” says Lott. “I was barred. It’s one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. He kept me from seeing the love of my life before she died.” Lott dismisses the claim that O’Neal was Farrah’s love until the end. “I know what I had with her,” says Lott. “He didn’t have that. He blew it.”
|Lott confronts O'Neal|
The University of Texas dismissed O’Neal’s claim that he loaned his Warhol to Farrah, noting that she insured both paintings and had loaned them to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, signing documents saying that she was the owner. The drama playing out this week in the Los Angeles Superior Court promises an all-star cast, including O’Neal, Redmond, Farrah’s best friend Rod Stewart’s ex-wife Alana and Charlie’s Angels co-star Jaclyn Smith. Among the evidence the court could see is a postcard that O’Neal sent to Lott after Farrah’s funeral: “For Greg Lott – nobody wins. Peace. Ryan O’Neal.”
This week someone will win a valuable Warhol portrait but Farrah’s storybook romance with O’Neal may now be lost for ever.
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