Actor Ryan O'Neal has filed a defamation lawsuit against the man he believes is responsible for publicly accusing him of 'stealing' an iconic Andy Warhol portrait of his late lover Farrah Fawcett.
The Charlie's Angels star, who died in 2009, reportedly left her entire art collection to her alma mater, the University of Texas, and statements made by producer/filmmaker Craig Nevius suggest a 1979 Warhol painting owned by O'Neal should have been among the items handed over to the school.
Nevius' allegations of theft reportedly prompted lawyers for the University of Texas to take action and they recently filed papers asking a judge to order O'Neal return the piece, which is worth an estimated $30 million (£18.75 million).
However, the Love Story actor, who was a close friend of Warhol's, claims the artist produced two copies of the Fawcett portrait - one for the screen beauty and the other for O'Neal, who dated the actress on and off for years.
O'Neal has taken issue with Nevius' claims and he is now suing over the "false, malicious and defamatory" comments, insisting he has suffered "humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress" as a result. He is demanding more than $1 million (£625,000) in damages, according to Tmz.com.
Nevius was initially hired by Fawcett to document her cancer battle on film, but his work was rejected by the star and her best friend Alana Stewart took over. Last year (10), he accused the executors of Fawcett's estate of financial mismanagement - allegations they have vehemently denied.