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“Liz Taylor Painting Was a Gift!” Warhol’s Nephews Oppose Warhol Foundation Allegations

Andy Warhol’s nephews are stirring more drama into the stolen “Liz” portrait case. In October, the Andy Warhol Foundation filed a lawsuit against former Warhol bodyguard Agusto Bugarin, claiming he stole a 1964 Liz Taylor painting, making it unsalable.

The Warhol foundation said Bugarin allegedly stole the painting and waited decades to sell it after potential witnesses had died. Two of Warhol’s nephews, James and George Warhola, who have no affiliation with the foundation, have come to Bugarin’s defense.

“It’s absolutely bizarre to me that Agusto is being portrayed as this grand thief,” James wrote. “I have to think that the foundation’s lawyers are lacking in firsthand knowledge of my uncle’s relationship with the Bugarin family. My uncle adored the Bugarin family and he was very generous with them.”

Though Warhol referred to Bugarin as his bodyguard in his diary entries, James insisted that his uncle was just being facetious. “My uncle was always joking,” Warhola said. “He always had a great sense of humor, and Agusto is a small guy.”

Liz Taylor and Andy Warhol in 1984.
Photo: Ron Galella/

Warhol did tease Bugarin about his height in his first diary entry of him in 1980. “I’d like to get Nena and Aurora’s brother Agosto to be a bodyguard, although he’s like only two feet high, but he’s just out of the Marine Corps and it’s ‘Yes, sir!’ and ‘No, sir!’ and he’s great,” Warhol wrote.

However, in 1981, after a death threat from an unnamed musician, Warhol described Bugarin’s role with more gravity. He wrote in his diary, “And Risa Dickstein, she’s Interview’s lawyer, said she has a detective we can hire, but I’m going to hire Agosto to be my bodyguard and go places with me.”

The Foundation’s lawyers are still confident that they have drawn all the right conclusions. As the Liz Taylor painting remains in storage, the lawsuit prohibits the $20 million sale.

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