John Paul Getty Jr.

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Sir John Paul Getty Jr.
John Paul Getty, Jr.jpg
Born Eugene Paul Getty
(1932-09-07)7 September 1932
Italy[a]
Died 17 April 2003(2003-04-17) (aged 70)
London, England
Nationality British
Education St. Ignatius College Preparatory
Alma mater University of San Francisco (did not graduate)
Spouse(s) Abigail "Gail" Harris (1956–64)
Talitha Pol (1966–71)
Victoria Holdsworth (m. 1994)
Children John Paul Getty III
Mark Getty
Aileen Getty
Ariadne Getty
Tara Gabriel Getty
Parent(s) Jean Paul Getty Sr.
Ann Rork
Relatives Gordon Getty (brother)
Andrew Getty (nephew)
George Getty (grandfather)
Sam E. Rork (grandfather)
Balthazar Getty (grandson)

Sir John Paul Getty, KBE (born Eugene Paul Getty; 7 September 1932 – 17 April 2003), was a British philanthropist and book collector. He was the third of five sons born to Jean Paul Getty Sr. (1892–1976), one of the richest men in the world at the time, and his wife Ann Rork. The Getty family's wealth was the result of the oil business founded by George Franklin Getty. At birth he was given the name Eugene Paul Getty, but in later life he adopted other names, including Paul Getty, John Paul Getty, Jean Paul Getty Jr., and John Paul Getty II. In 1986, he was awarded an honorary knighthood for services to causes ranging from cricket, to art and to the Conservative Party. His honorary knighthood would eventually become substantive upon the required acquisition of British citizenship. A long-time Anglophile,[2] he became a British citizen in 1997. In 1998 he changed his name by deed poll when he renounced the first name Eugene and wished to be known as Sir Paul Getty, KBE.[3]

Early life[edit]

John Paul Jr. was born onboard ship in the waters near Genoa, Italy, on September 7, 1932, while his parents Ann and J. Paul Getty Sr. were travelling. His birth was registered at La Spezia with the name Eugenio Paul Getty, when the Italian notary misheard the name John. He would legally alter his name with the Italian authorities to John Paul in 1958.[4]

He was initially raised in Los Angeles, California. His parents' marriage was troubled by J. Paul's long absences abroad and his emotional distance. Ann Getty divorced him in 1936 in Reno, Nevada, claiming emotional cruelty and neglect. She was awarded $1,000 per month in child support for each of her sons, Paul Jr. and Gordon.[5]

In 1938, Ann married her third husband, Joseph Stanton McInerney, and the family moved to San Francisco. Paul Jr. attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory and the University of San Francisco, both Jesuit schools. Throughout his adolescence he showed a great interest in reading and music, encouraged by his mother. In 1950 he was drafted to serve in the Korean War, spending the duration working at the American headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.[6] After he was discharged he met Abigail Harris, the daughter of a prominent San Franciscan Federal judge, and the two were married in early 1956. His first child, John Paul Getty III was born in November, 1956. The following year he approached his half-brother, Gordon Peter Getty, vice-president of the Getty subsidiary Tidewater Petroleum, asking for a job. His brother gave him a job pumping gas at a Tidewater gas station in San Francisco.[7] After a year, his father (whom he had not seen in 12 years) was favorably impressed enough to invite him and the family to Paris, where he offered Paul Jr. a job as President of Getty Oil's Italian subsidiary, Getty Oil Italiana, in Rome.[8]

Marriages[edit]

His first marriage was to Abigail "Gail" Harris, a former water polo champion. They divorced in 1964, having had four children including John Paul Getty III and Mark Getty.[9]

His second marriage was to the Dutch actress, model and style icon Talitha Pol (stepdaughter of painter Augustus John's daughter Poppet) on 10 December 1966. The two posed for an iconic photograph on a roof-top in Marrakesh, Morocco in January 1969. The photo, taken by Patrick Lichfield, shows Talitha Getty crouched down leaning on a wall and her husband in the background in a hooded djellaba and sunglasses. The photo appeared in American Vogue and again in the September 1999 issue of American Vogue and is part of the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. Two and a half years after the photo was taken, Talitha died of a heroin overdose on 14 July 1971. She was survived by her son with Getty: Tara Gabriel Gramophone Galaxy Getty (born June 1968), an ecological conservationist in Africa.[10] In 1994, he married for the third and final time, to Victoria Holdsworth.

Personal problems[edit]

After he married Talitha in 1966, the couple became immersed in the 1960s counter culture, living between Rome and Marrakesh, Morocco. During a trip to Thailand, the couple developed serious heroin addictions. When Getty Sr., who abhorred drug-taking of any kind, heard of his son's addiction, he insisted on his becoming sober. Paul Jr. refused and tendered his resignation from Getty Oil Italiana. The couple lived off his income from the family trust, which amounted to $100,000 a year. In 1969, he and Talitha separated as she decided to focus on becoming sober. He purchased No. 16 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, London, where the Victorian artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti had lived in the 1860s, for Talitha and their baby son Tara to live in, while he remained in Rome.[11]

Death of Talitha[edit]

After living apart for several years, Talitha, who was sober at the time, asked Paul Jr. for a divorce in early 1971. Still very much in love with his wife, he insisted that she come to Rome and give the marriage another shot. When her lawyer advised her that divorce proceedings would be easier if she could show that she had attempted reconciliation with Paul, she left for Rome on 9 July.[12] On the morning of the 14th, she was found dead in the Getty apartment in Piazza d'Aracoeli. The autopsy ruled that she had alcohol and barbiturates in her system, but rumors flared up that she had suffered a heroin relapse while spending time with Getty, who was still embroiled in his addiction. In December 1971, Italian authorities announced that an inquest would be held into Talitha's death the following March; they requested that Getty meet with investigators to describe the circumstances surrounding her death. Afraid that his own drug addiction would result in his being indicted and potentially imprisoned, Getty left for England.[13] He ignored a subsequent request by an Italian judge to return to Italy for the inquest. Neither an arrest warrant, nor an extradition request was ever issued, since Getty was never a suspect in Talitha's death, but he never returned to Italy for fear of being detained.[14]

Son's kidnapping[edit]

After his second wife's death, Getty became reclusive for a time and his heroin addiction worsened, fueled by guilt for his wife's death. In 1973, his eldest son, John Paul Getty III, was kidnapped in Rome by Calabrian 'Ndrangheta mobsters and held in the Calabrian Mountains, chained to a stake in a cave. Getty did not have enough money to pay the $17 million ransom demand, and his father refused to help, saying "I have 13 other grandchildren, and if I pay one penny now, then I will have 14 kidnapped grandchildren."[15] However, when one of his son's ears was delivered by mail to a newspaper in Rome (delivery had been delayed by three weeks because of a postal strike), his father finally agreed to help out with the ransom through a $2.2 million payment (the maximum that was tax-deductible) and a $1 million loan which he extended to his son at 4% interest.[15]

Later life[edit]

In 1976, Getty's father died. Over the next decade Getty suffered from depression and, in a final attempt to end his drug addiction, checked himself into the London Clinic in 1984. While there he received a visit from the then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to thank him for large donations to the National Gallery. She reportedly helped speed his recovery by telling him, "My dear Mr. Getty, we mustn't let things get us down, must we? We'll have you out of here as soon as possible." During a low period in the 1970s Getty had been cheered up by the former England cricketer and later President of the MCC, Gubby Allen, having previously been introduced to the game by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.[16]

Paul III struggled with PTSD from his kidnapping for years, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. In April 1981 he suffered a major drug overdose which left him paralyzed and almost completely blind. The following November, his mother Gail sued her ex-husband for $25,000 per month to support their son's medical expenses.[17] Despite the fact that Paul II was earning over $20 million a year from his family trust, he had refused to pay a penny towards the treatment, leaving his brother Gordon to pay his nephew's expenses. The litigation judge who allowed the case to go to trial scolded Paul Jr.: "Mr. Getty should be ashamed of himself spending far more money on court obligations than living up to his moral duties."[18] Claiming that he doubted the severity of his son's debilitation, Getty sent his lawyer to Los Angeles to confirm it firsthand, which led him to finally agree to shouldering the costs.[19]

Wormsley Park[edit]

During his nine-month stint in the London Clinic, Getty decided to purchase a dilapidated country estate west of London, Wormsley Park, on the advice of his close friend Christopher Gibbs.[20] After his release in March 1986, he devoted himself to remodeling the 18th-century mansion and restoring the 3,000 acres of parkland. This included the creation of a deer park, the reforestation of 1,500 acres of beechwood forest, and the dredging of a man-made 4 acre lake filled with water tapped from an aquifer 400 feet below ground.[21] Along with the restoration of the Georgian mansion house, overseen by Gibbs, Getty added a castle-like addition made of local flint built to house his extensive library, an indoor heated pool, and a replica of The Oval cricket ground. To house his disabled son, he had an accessible cottage built near the pool, from where he could do his water rehabilitation exercises. The 6-year project cost an estimated ₤60 million.[21]

From Wormsley, Getty was able to host his long-estranged family and gradually improve his relations with his children and ex-wife.[22] To inaugurate his professional cricket ground, Getty hosted a match in September 1992 captained by the Cricketing legends Imran Khan and Bob Wyatt, with the Prime Minister John Major and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as his guests of honor.[23]

Philanthropy[edit]

Getty donated over £140m to various artistic and cultural causes. The National Gallery alone received £50m from him. He was awarded a knighthood in the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1987, but as a foreign national he could not use the title "Sir". In December 1997 he was granted British citizenship and immediately renounced his US nationality. The Queen reportedly commented: "Now you can use your title. Isn't that nice?" [24]

He became President of Surrey County Cricket Club for one year, and gave money to Lord's Cricket Ground to build a new stand. He combined his loves of cricket and books when he purchased the ownership of Wisden, the famous publishers of the cricketing almanack. Getty built an extraordinary library at Wormsley, collecting such treasures as a first edition of Chaucer, Ben Jonson's annotated copy of Spenser, and Shakespeare Folios. He was a notable member of the exclusive Roxburghe Club, famous among book collectors.[citation needed]

His personal fortune was estimated as about £1.6 billion. He donated significant support for the National Gallery, the British Museum, the British Film Institute, Hereford Cathedral, St Paul's Cathedral, the Imperial War Museum, and St. James Catholic Church.[1] Some of his donations, especially contributions towards the purchases of Canova's The Three Graces by The National Galleries of Scotland[25] and the Madonna of the Pinks by Raphael, foiled acquisition efforts by the J. Paul Getty Museum endowed by his father. In June 2001, he gave £5 million to the Conservative Party. He endowed a ₤20 million charitable trust which supports the arts, conservation and social welfare.[26]

Death[edit]

Getty died, aged 70, on 17 April 2003, having been admitted for treatment to a London hospital for a chest infection.[27]

Media portrayals[edit]

Getty Jr. is portrayed by Andrew Buchan in the film All the Money in the World and by Michael Esper in the television series Trust, both of which dramatize Getty III's kidnapping.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Getty was born onboard a ship in the waters near Genoa, Italy, while his parents were travelling. His birth was registered at La Spezia.
  1. ^ a b Charlotte Edwardes (16 November 2003). "Getty leaves bulk of fortune to son Mark". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "BBC profile: Sir John Paul Getty II". BBC News. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "No. 55124". The London Gazette. 12 May 1998. p. 5324. 
  4. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. pp. 107–8. 
  5. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. p. 71. 
  6. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. p. 99. 
  7. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. p. 104. 
  8. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. p. 106. 
  9. ^ His daughter, Aileen Getty, is an AIDS activist formerly married to Elizabeth Taylor's son Christopher Wilding; married since 2005 to Bartolomeo Ruspoli (b 1978), son of Prince Alessandro Ruspoli. American writer/columnist Liz Smith made several mistakes in reporting the second marriage, notably that there were two Aileen Gettys and that the first one (Taylor's ex-daughter-in-law) had died, and that the bride's father had died in 1971 (he was very much alive) "Heirs Plan Secret Wedding" Archived 27 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine., 26 April 2005; the New York Times mentioned the marriage in an August 2006 article
  10. ^ NNDb profile for J. Paul Getty Jr. Retrieved 21 November 2007. At some point, Tara dropped his third and fourth names. In 1999, an Irish newspaper revealed that he and six other family members had been granted Irish passports and citizenship, and he was now known as Tara Gabriel Getty.
  11. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. pp. 147–8. 
  12. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. pp. 150–51. 
  13. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. p. 155. 
  14. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. pp. 155–6. 
  15. ^ a b Miller, Julie (December 22, 2017). "The Enigma of J. Paul Getty, the One-Time Richest Man in the World". Vanity Fair. New York City: Condé Nast. Retrieved December 28, 2017. 
  16. ^ Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2004; E W Swanton (1996) Last Over. 
  17. ^ Adelson, Suzanne; Wilhelm, Maria (December 14, 1981). "Paralyzed and Blind from a Drug Overdose, Paul III is the Star-Crossed Getty". People. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved April 1, 2018. 
  18. ^ Pierson, John (1995). Painfully Rich. New York City: Harper Collins. p. 244. ISBN 978-0312135799. 
  19. ^ Pierson, John (1995). Painfully Rich. New York City: Harper Collins. p. 245. ISBN 978-0312135799. 
  20. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. Harper Collins. p. 272. 
  21. ^ a b John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. Harper Collins. p. 282. 
  22. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. Harper Collins. p. 290. 
  23. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. Harper Collins. pp. 320–321. 
  24. ^ "American-born Billionaire Getty Knighted By Queen", Chicago Tribune, 10 March 1998; retrieved 15 June 2018.
  25. ^ "Getty son pledges money to keep statue in Britain", New York Times, 13 August 1994; retrieved 31 August 2008.
  26. ^ John Pearson (1995). Painfully Rich. Harper Collins. p. 271. 
  27. ^ "Billionaire Getty dies". BBC News. 17 April 2003. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  28. ^ Petski, Denise (June 21, 2017). "'Trust': Michael Esper To Co-Star In FX Getty Drama Series; Veronica Echegui To Recur". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved June 22, 2017. 

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