Thursday 25 April 2019

Irish passport holder Getty (57) is an heir to the Getty oil fortune, which made his grandfather John Paul one of the world's wealthiest men. Business being in the family DNA, Mark built up the Getty Images photo library into a global giant, before selling off large shares to private equity firms in two stages for a combined sum of just under €4bn.

He owns a 2,500-acre estate in Buckinghamshire, complete with Oval cricket ground replica, an eclectic art collection, ranging from old masters to Banksy, and a yacht called Tabitha. A collection of old books, including rare Shakespeare and Chaucer folios, is also said to be very valuable.

A generous and enthusiastic supporter of the arts, he previously chaired Britain's National Gallery board of trustees. He also supports The Africa Foundation, which has charitable activities in southern and east Africa. There is also a London home and one in Tuscany.

Though more than €850m in dividends has been paid out, Getty Images has come under pressure from the increasing availability of free, high-quality photos on the internet and the general decline in traditional media. The company has therefore been tweaking its offerings, selling collections of royalty-free stock images, partnering with drone photographers and tailoring its pricing to suit different budgets. Top-tier staff have been replaced. There is a new division to improve its offering for commercial content and brand storytelling, and greater use of analytics and AI.

Getty's high debt levels affected its ability to reinvest to boost its growth in recent years, prompting debt rating agency Moody's to voice its concerns on a regular basis after a couple of downgrades of its credit rating since 2012. The agency remains sceptical about whether the new direction of the business will improve its cashflow, and regards the firm as being over-leveraged. A film released last month, All The Money In The World, about the kidnapping of his brother is likely to make uncomfortable viewing for the Getty family.

Online Editors

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