The Getty’s have lent their name to a museum, research centre, an oil company, a conservation institute and a photo agency.
Currently Forbes lists the Getty’s as the 56th richest family in America.
They count 28 members in the sprawling family, with a dynasty spanning several generations.
In 2015 they estimated the Getty’s have a net worth of $5.4 billion (£3.7 billion).
Despite their massive wealth the family has been plagued by tragedies over the years.
Patriarch George Getty (1855-1930) was born in Maryland and studied to become a lawyer.
After the death of his first child with his wife, Sarah, they went on to have a son, John Paul, born in 1892.
In 1904 George embarked on a career in the oil industry, and within two years his Minnehoma Oil Company was a success.
He lent his only son and heir, John Paul – later known as J. Paul – money to invest in oil wells and by 1915 J. Paul had made his first million.
The father and son combined their companies to form Getty Oil Company, later to become Getty Oil.
But seemingly never approving of his son’s lifestyle, on his deathbed he did not leave sole control of the company to J. Paul, but rather his wife, Sarah, with his son the president of the firm.
J. Paul Getty
J. Paul Getty was married five times and had five sons; George Franklin Getty II, Jean Ronald Getty, John Paul Getty Jnr, Gordon Getty and Timothy Ware Getty.
In 1957 he was named by Fortune magazine as the richest living American, and in 1966 the Guinness Book of Records named his as the world’s richest private citizen, with an estimated worth of $1.2 billion (£841.3 million).
At the time of his death, in 1976, he is thought to have been worth $6 billion (£4.2 billion).
An avid collector, his penchant for antiquities and art was later displayed in the J. Paul Getty Museum, in LA, and he left around $661 million (£463.3 million) to the museum after his death.
He also set up the J. Paul Getty Trust in 1953, the world’s wealthiest art institution, which operates The Getty Center, The Getty Villa and the Getty Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, and the Getty Conservation Institute.
J. Paul Getty’s art collection
- The oil tycoon began collecting in the 1930s, and developed a passion for 18th century French paintings.
- By the time of his death he had amassed a collection of more than 600 items, valued at over $4 million, $17.5 million in 2018’s standards.)
- His works included paintings by Rubens, Titian, Gainsborough, Renoir, Tintoretto, Degas, and Monet.
- Not just paintings, he also developed an interest in Greco-Roman sculpture, and as a result bought the Getty Villa to house his formidable collection.
- J. Paul’s collection was transferred to the Getty museum, which now boasts Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art from the Neolithic to Late Antiquity.
- It also has European art including illuminated manuscripts, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century.
Born in 1933, he is fourth son of J. Paul Getty and has seven children.
He is a composer, investor and philanthropist. After J. Paul Getty’s death in 1976, Gordon assumed control of Getty’s $3 billion (£2.1 billion) trust.
According to Forbes 400, in September 2011 his net worth was $2 billion (£1.4 billion), ranking him number 212 on the list of wealthy Americans.
One of his sons, Andrew, tragically died aged just 47 in 2015.
John Paul Getty Jnr
Out of his five children John Paul Getty Jnr (1932-2003) is one of the most well known.
The third of five sons, during his life he was one of the richest men in the world, and also had five children, two boys and three girls.
He was married twice and collected books, and had close ties with the UK.
In 1986 he was awarded an honorary knighthood and became Sir John Paul Getty, for services ranging from art to the Tories.
He became a British citizen in 1997.
His youngest son Mark was born in 1960, and is the founder of Getty Images, a global photo agency.
He was awarded an honorary knighthood in 2015 for services to arts and philanthropy.
He is a regular name in the Sunday Times Rich List.
John Paul Getty III
Another son, John Paul Getty III, is one of the most famous Getty’s and has been the subject of films, TV series and books.
Born in 1956, he was kidnapped aged just 16 in Italy.
Previously toying with the idea of staging a kidnapping to extract funds from his rich grandfather, J. Paul Getty, when a ransom note was received for $17 million (£11.9 million) some family members thought it a ploy.
But months dragged on and his captors cut off his ear and mailed it, along with a piece of his hair, to newspapers, reissuing their demands.
Despite being one of the richest men in the world J. Paul Getty’s infamously refused to pay up.
Eventually, after declining treatment and health, another issue was made for $3.2 million (£3.3 million).
He eventually negotiated his release for $2.9 million (£2 million), and paid $2.2 million (£1.5 million) – the maximum tax deductible amount – and loaned his son the rest at four per cent interest.
Following his release his life was plagued with addiction problems and he suffered a stroke which left him leaving him quadriplegic, partially blind and unable to speak, and he was severely handicapped for the rest of his life.
He was cared for by his mother, Abigail Harris, until his death in 2011 aged 54.
John Paul Getty III had one son, actor Balthazar Getty, born in 1975.
Balthazar has appeared in films such as Lord of the Flies and Judge Dredd, and in TV shows such as Twin Peaks and Hawaii Five-O.
The married father-of-four is also a musician and is in a band called Ringside.
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