Share |

Grandson of oil tycoon dies

Jean Paul Getty III, grandson of possibly the world's first billionaire, oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty, has died aged 54.

Beyond his famous surname, Paul Getty III is best known for being kidnapped in Rome at the age of 16 and held captive for five months before his grandfather, decided to pay the ransom.

Reports at the time suggested Getty only reluctantly agreed to pay the ransom after Paul's ear was sent to a Roman newspaper with a warning that more would follow if the family refused to pay. Getty eventually paid just shy of $3 million to the kidnappers, who had originally demanded $17 million.

Paul didn't adapt well after the kidnap, becoming a drug addict and eventually suffering a stroke in 1981 that left him paralysed, unable to talk and in a wheelchair.

The family's fortune came from Jean Paul Getty (pictured), who founded and transformed Getty Oil into a billion-dollar business. The company's power reached its peak in the 1960s, but most of the business was later taken over by Russian oil company Lukoil. Getty was notoriously parsimonious, famous for making his guests use a pay phone installed at his Surrey mansion.

On the other hand, his son, Jean Paul Getty II, was known for his philanthropy, giving around $80 million to the National Gallery in London. An avid cricket fan, he became president of the Surrey County Cricket Club for a year, and gave money to Lord's Cricket Ground to build a new stand.

Son Paul died in his home in Buckinghamshire in England and is survived by his two children – actor Balthazar Getty and stepdaughter Anna – and six grandchildren.

Want to get the latest family business/family office news direct to your desktopClick here to register to receive our weekly newsletter

Are you a member of a multigenerational family business or family office? Click here to subscribe to our magazines

Click here >>
Close