7 Things You May Not Know About the Troubled Getty Family
By Daniela Capistrano
The Getty Family made headlines this week with the latest in a series of tragedies that has plagued the family for decades. Andrew Getty, the son of Gordon Getty and grandson of oil baron J. Paul Getty, was found dead on March 31 in his Hollywood Hills home. LAPD Capt. William Hayes told the LA Times that "we believe it is a natural-caused death" due to Getty's "plethora of medical issues." Getty was found in his bathroom surrounded by significant amounts of blood.
The 47-year-old had recently filed a restraining order against his on-again, off-again girlfriend Lanessa DeJonge. In the documents, Getty said his doctors had advised "that heated arguments can cause my blood pressure to rise dangerously," putting him at "serious risk." "As [DeJonge] is aware, I have a serious medical condition and if my blood pressure rises I am at serious risk of injury or death," Getty wrote. The LAPD confirmed that DeJonge was the woman who discovered Getty's body.
The Getty family history is both filled with remarkable accomplishments and fraught with tragedy. Here are some things you may not have known about one of America's oldest and wealthiest dynasties:
1. Andrew Getty's father Gordon Getty is a music lover and international patron of the arts. When the billionaire decided he needed more space to play his grand piano, he purchased the home next door to his Pacific Heights mansion in San Francisco and combined both palatial spaces into one house. Gordon celebrated the merger with a black-tie fete for 80, featuring entertainment by opera diva Jessye Norman. Gordon also made headlines in the 1990s when he was discovered to be leading a secret double life that included a mistress and three daughters.
2. Gavin Newsom, current lieutenant governor of California and former San Francisco mayor, received ample support from the Getty family by way of his father, retired state appeals court Judge William A. Newsom III. The former judge has directly managed the personal wealth of Gordon Getty for years and Getty invested in several of the governor's business ventures, including five restaurants, a Napa winery and a Squaw Valley hotel. The Newsoms also each have owned stock in Getty Images, the Getty family's multi-billion conglomerate that licenses an archive of millions of photographs, illustrations videos and more.
3. J. Paul Getty's fifth son was blinded and died of a brain tumor in 1958 at age 12, and another son died of self-inflicted stab wound in 1973. In that same year, J. Paul Getty III -- J. Paul Getty's teenaged grandson and Andrew Getty's cousin -- was kidnapped in Italy and held for ransom for more than five months. During the ransom negotiations, the kidnappers cut off one of his ears. After being freed, J. Paul Getty III became addicted to drugs, confined to a wheelchair until his 2011 death.
4. The Getty foundation funds andBeyond (formerly known as Conservation Corporation Africa), an ecotourism organization, "committed to providing world-class holiday experiences and to ongoing investment in sustainable conservation development and community empowerment." Their many luxurious safari lodges in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania cater to eco-tourists who can afford to pay $350 and more per night.
5. John Paul Getty, Jr., the elder son of Jean Paul Getty, Sr., had a child with Talitha Pol in 1968, who they named Tara Gabriel Galaxy Gramophone Getty. After Talitha died in Rome of a heroin overdose on July 14, 1971, Getty became a semi-recluse and built a collection of rare books, which included the first, second, third, and fourth Shakespeare folios and a first edition of Chaucer.
6. John Paul Getty III's son Balthazar Getty is an actor known for his roles on Alias and Brothers and Sisters. Balthazar gained notoriety in his 2008 for his affair with actress Sienna Miller - the two were spotted cavorting nearly nude on a beach in Italy.
7. J. Paul Getty, who died in 1976 at 83, was personally worth more than $2 billion at the time of his death (approximately $8.3 billion in 2014). He was an obsessive art collector and left most of his fortune to the Los Angeles art museum that bears his name. However, he didn't forget about his family - trusts and large shares in Getty Oil have and will continue to bankroll his descendants for years to come.