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Between Friends

An Andy Warhol painting is in the news. His portrait of Elizabeth Taylor is the subject of litigation between his foundation and his former “bodyguard”, Agusto Bugarin.  The painting was expected to bring between $20 million and $30 million at an auction which has since been postponed.  The “bodyguard” who stands 5’4″” and weighs 135 pounds, and was likely Warhol’s assistant, claims Warhol gave him the painting for his assistance in renovating a house.  The foundation claims that Bugarin was really his bodyguard and has patiently waited for anyone with knowledge of the painting to die before attempting to sell it.

Several, actually five, quick points:

1.  Gifts of assets without titles are difficult to prove/disprove.  I frequently see this in disputes about jewelry in an estate and whether it was given while mom was alive or taken by one of the daughters after mom died.

2.  Warhol died in 1987.  27 years is an incredibly long time for a man of limited financial resources to wait before trying to cash in on something he allegedly stole.

3.   Warhol was known for giving away his away.  Ask the University of Texas which lost its dispute with Ryan O’Neal over a portrait of Farrah Fawcett.

4.  I agree with Warhol’s nephews who claim that Warhol was only joking when he referred to the 5’4″ Filipino Bugarin as his bodyguard.  If I had a bodyguard, he would look like an NFL linebacker and only speak mono syllabic English language words.  And then only occasionally.

5.  I still do not understand the market for Warhol art.  I would not pay $20, much less $20 million, for a picture of Elizabeth Taylor in which she resembles a drag queen.

liz

Love Means Never Having to Fight Over a Portrait

After Nick Saban declined the University of Texas  football job, the bad week for UT continued when a jury determined that a painting of Farrah Fawcett by Andy Warhol belonged to Ryan O’Neal and was not part of her art collection that she left to the university.  She left none of her estate to long time lover O’Neal which forced him to fight for the ownership of the painting which is estimated to be worth between $1 million and $12 million.

Several points:

1.  Marriage can provide legal protection.  If Ryan and Farrah had married, he would have been entitled to one-third of her estate as a matter of law and could have skipped the drama over the painting.

2.  When one’s former girlfriend/lover/companion leaves $100K to a college boyfriend and nothing to you, perhaps your relationship is not comparable to the idyllic “Love Story.”  Love means never having to fight over a portrait of the deceased.

3.  A photograph with painted eyes and lipstick is worth seven figures?

Fame, Hairspray, Infidelity, and Litigation

Ryan O’Neal and the University of Texas are engaged in a lawsuit over a painting of Farrah Fawcett created by Andy Warhol which could be worth $30 million.  Farrah’s will left her entire art collection, including another portrait of her by Warhol, to the University of  Texas.  Mr. O’Neal claims that the painting was given to him by Warhol and that he had taken it to Farrah’s house in 1998 after they broke up because his then girlfriend did not like it in the bedroom.

Several points:

1.   It is generally in poor taste to hang a portrait of an ex in the bedroom while involved with someone else.  Kudos to Mr. O’Neal for removing it.

2.  When taking a piece of art to an ex, one might want to reclaim it in the 11 intervening years instead of waiting until the ex dies.

3.   Apparently the University of Texas is not satisfied with a $7.2 billion endowment and is willing to fight for more.

 

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All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.