TODAY | December 23, 2013
>> ryan o'neal opening up about a special fight to hold on to a special painting or portrait of his long time love farrah fawcett . first the back story.
>>> for ryan o'neal this andy w warhol is as personal as valuable. but it's been hanging in limbo while a jury decided if it actually belonged to oneal.
>> it was his idea to get paintings made. they were handed one to him and one to her.
>> the university of texas claimed the actress had given both warhols to the school in her will. late last week the jury ruled the school could get one and he gets the other.
>> it's a long trial and we're pleased the jury did the right thing.
>> the trial put the turbulent relationship under the microscope but friends of fawcetts stood by ryan o'neal.
>> i know my friend and i love my friend and i need to support ryan because that's where her heart would be.
>> a surgical procedure prevented him from being in court to hear the 9-3 decision in his favor but fawcett's two sons were there.
>> hopefully your mom can rest in peace.
>> exactly. i know she had something to do with this up there.
>> well, ryan o'neal is with us exclusively along with his attorney. good morning.
>> good morning.
>> ryan , you were having surgery the day the verdict was read. i know you got a call from your son. what was your reaction when you found out this portrait will stay with you and your family.
>> my son patrick called me from the courtroom -- he text me. i was lying on an opportunity table. there was blood running down the side of my face and then there were tears running down the side of my face, mixing with the blood. it was a pretty amazing moment for me.
>> well, you testified very emotionally in this case. you said there were times you even talk to this portrait . it does seem it's more than an object to you.
>> well, i talked to her this morning about doing your show. she said i could do it.
>> you asked her permission?
>> it's that real to you, is it? this is the way you're keeping her memory alive?
>> it seems to have developed over the years. i had her in my home for 18 years, the painting. but when she died, both paintings were in her home so the university of texas felt that they belonged to the university and i had said, no, no. one is mine and we went to court and they brought a big set of guns here to fight me. but i had martin singer who is the finest litigator in the country on my side and we prevailed.
>> ryan , let me ask you because i have been following the case and reading about the case and one of the questions i had was how it is that farrah didn't make it more explicit that she wanted you to have the portrait . she had the will. she left you out of the will. there was testify in the trial that she asked friends to put post it notes on friends they wanted to keep. why didn't she make it clear she wanted you to have that portrait ?
>> well, because the will that -- the living trust went into action when she died she had not completed it. she had done one pass at it. and she didn't have to say anything about the portrait being mine because it was mine, you see? from the day we got them. one was mine and one was hers. she wouldn't have mentioned that anyway. this was a long shot for texas to do this, i felt. they didn't really have a case.
>> and what motivated the university in your mind?
>> oh, i have enemies and one of them sent 90 e-mails to the regents there and said i stole it. and that it was worth $30 million and i stole it and they should come and get it and they final fin finally decided they should come and get it.
>> nobody knows what this portrait is worth. put you said this portrait is strictly sentimental value to you. a lot of people look at the value of this and start to do the math. are you saying you'll never sell this portrait ?
>> it will never be sold. it will go on to her son redmond and his children. like that. it was always invaluable to us. she was a wonderful woman. and this is what was left. that's all that was left.
>> this trial dredged up a lot of unpleasant memories. some of the moments from your relationship all came into the trial and were part of the testimony. when you think about that and having to go through that, was it worth it to dredge all of that up?
>> it was worth it, yes. i know that she would have said fight for me. fight for this painting. she would have told me that. and redmond and i discussed it and he said let's go get it. so we had martin here for help because it looked like it was going to be a tough case. and it turned out it wasn't.
>> finally, to ask you personally, you mentioned your skin cancer surgery last week. you battled leukemia and prostate cancer . tell us how you're doing this morning.
>> i'm doing fine. i'll be fine.
>> everything good with your health.
>> yes, thank you.
>> well, ryan o'neal. thank you for taking the time. i know it's early out there. thank you for being with us. congratulations on the verdict in the case.