John Paul Getty, Jr.

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Eugene Paul Getty

Also Known As: "Paul Getty", "John Paul Getty II", "John Paul Getty"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Los Angeles, USA
Death: Died in London, United Kingdom
Place of Burial: Getty Family Estate, Buckinghamshire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of J. Paul Getty and Ann Getty
Husband of <private> Holdsworth
Ex-husband of <private> Getty (Harris) and Talitha Dina Getty
Father of John Paul Getty, III; <private> Getty; <private> Getty; <private> Getty and <private> Getty
Brother of <private> Getty
Half brother of <private> Getty; George Franklin Getty, II and Timothy Ware Getty

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John Paul Getty, Jr.

Sir John Paul Getty, KBE was a wealthy American-born British philanthropist and book collector. He was the son of Jean Paul Getty, Sr. (1892–1976), one of the richest men in the world at the time, and his wife Anne Rork.

The 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 and was better known by the names Paul Getty, John Paul Getty, Jean Paul Getty, Jr. and John Paul Getty II.

His father expected him to prove himself: his first job was pumping gas for $100 a month. He attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory and the University of San Francisco, but he did not complete his graduation from university. He was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve in Korea.

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.

His second marriage was to the Dutch actress, model and style icon Talitha Pol (stepdaughter of Augustus John's daughter Poppet) on December 10, 1966. The two posed for an iconic photograph of the two of them 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 sunglassed, hooded husband in the background. 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. Only a year and a half after the photo was taken, Talitha died of a heroin overdose on July 14, 1971. She was survived by her son with Getty, Tara Gabriel Gramophone Galaxy Getty, who was born in July 1968. He is now a noted ecological conservationist in Africa.

A long-time Anglophile, Sir John became a British citizen in 1997. In 1986, he was awarded an honorary knighthood for services to causes ranging from cricket (a sport he came to love despite his American upbringing), to art and to the Conservative Party. His honorary knighthood became substantive when he became a British citizen. 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.

Getty initially became reclusive after the death of his second wife in 1971. He moved to Rome as head of Getty Oil Italiana. In 1973, his oldest child and son, Paul III, was kidnapped in Rome by Calabrian mobsters and held in the Calabrian Mountains, chained to a stake in a cave. Getty did not have enough money to pay the US$17 million ransom demand, and his father refused to help, saying "I have 14 other grandchildren, and if I pay one penny now, then I will have 14 kidnapped grandchildren." 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 payment by making the ransom payment a loan to his son.

In 1976, Paul Getty's father died. Getty's money came from a family trust and his grandmother. After his father's death, he was able to stop using drugs. Getty's daughter Aileen was married to Elizabeth Taylor's son, Christopher Wilding (son of actor Michael Wilding). Aileen recently married Bartolomeo Ruspoli (son of the late European playboy Dado Ruspoli and actress Debra Berger).

Over the next decade Getty suffered from depression and, in 1984 in a final attempt to end his drug addiction, checked himself into a London clinic. Whilst 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 M.C.C., Gubby Allen, having previously been introduced to the game by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.

He donated over £140m to various artistic and cultural causes. The National Gallery alone received £50m from him. He was awarded a KBE in 1987, but as a foreign national could not use the title "Sir". In December 1997 he was granted British citizenship and immediately renounced his US nationality. The Queen is reported to have commented: 'Now you can use your title, that's nice.' In 1994 he married his third wife, Victoria Holdsworth, who had helped him conquer his drug addiction.

Getty's acquired an interest in cricket and this led to his building a replica of The Oval cricket ground at Wormsley Park, his 2,500 acre (10 km²) Buckinghamshire estate. 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's First, Second, Third Folio, and Fourth Folios. He was a notable member of the exclusive Roxburghe Club, famous amongst book collectors.

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 and the Imperial War Museum. Some of his donations, especially contributions towards the purchases of Canova's The Three Graces by The National Galleries of Scotland 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. Getty also endowed a charitable trust that supports projects that promote the arts, conservation and social welfare.

He died on April 17, 2003 at age 70 in the London Clinic, after being admitted for treatment for a recurrent chest infection. Sir Paul Getty received posthumous recognition for his philanthropic work when he received the prestigious Beacon Fellowship Prize for his extraordinary public and private contributions to charitable causes.

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