Getty mysterious death: A family name long associated with unspeakable tragedy
Published 02/04/2015 | 07:54
It is a family name that has long been associated with unimaginable wealth and sometimes unspeakable tragedy.
The mysterious death of J Paul Getty's grandson Andrew Getty is just the latest example of the latter.
Mr Getty, 47, was found dead on Tuesday after his girlfriend called emergency services to report discovering his bloodied body at his Los Angeles mansion.
He and other heirs of oil baron J Paul Getty have managed to maintain a significant share of the fortune their patriarch left behind.
But the money has not shielded subsequent generations from drug addiction, premature death, tabloid scandal and violent attacks by others.
"The story of the famed Getty family is one of the most obvious examples that money, cold hard cash, doesn't buy happiness," Forbes Magazine reported in a profile last year.
It listed the combined family fortune at 5 billion dollars (£3.37 billion) - 54th highest on its list of America's most wealthy.
Andrew Getty's cousin J Paul Getty III was kidnapped in Italy in 1973.
When his wealthy grandfather was slow to pay a ransom, kidnappers cut off the 16-year-old's ear and threatened to return him piece by piece if they did not get money.
The oil baron, who previously told reporters, "I have 14 grandchildren and if I pay one penny ransom, I'll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren," eventually coughed up a sum reported to be 3 million dollars (£2 million).
Once released, the teenager resumed a jet-set lifestyle of abusing drugs and consorting with rock stars until he suffered a debilitating stroke in his 20s.
He died in 2011 aged 54. His stepmother, actress Talitha Pol, who had lived her own jet-set life, died of a heroin overdose in 1971.
Andrew Getty was the son of San Francisco billionaire Gordon Getty, who had his brush with scandal in 1999.
The father of four sons with his wife, Ann, acknowledged he had a second family in Los Angeles that included three daughters.
The acknowledgement came after the daughters filed court papers to change their last names to Getty.
Gordon Getty is one of three surviving sons of J Paul Getty, who became a financial legend after he took over his father's oil business and built it into Getty Oil, a multinational conglomerate with holdings all over the world.
A prominent art collector, he bequeathed much of his personal fortune to The Getty, which has created one of the world's premier museums, with a sprawling campus on a Los Angeles mountaintop. He died in 1976 aged 82.