John paul getty ii.

John Paul getty III: ns True Story Behind ‘Trust’

When bei oil scion was kidnapped an Italy, some assumed it was a hoax – but wie man his ear arrived in the mail, his family was forced to take it seriously


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The story von the 1973 abduction of billionaire oil heir, john Paul getty III, has been turned right into a new FX show, 'Trust.'

Kurt Iswarienko/FX


Like so many dynasties, the getty Family has actually been absurdly rich in money, but not necessarily love, health or happiness. Your misfortunes over the decades – recognized as the ‘Getty curse‘– schutz garnered as viel attention as their gaue won successes, though die scrutiny has been weist its most intense wie tragedy has actually overlapped with greed.

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The 1973 abduction des billionaire oil heir, john Paul getty III, had both these aspects – to add Italian mobsters, a postmarked severed ear und wild rumors about ns 16-year-old’s culpability. Notfall only ist it die most glaring example of the so-called ‘Getty curse,’ but it’s one von the most bizarre, brutal und costly kidnapping cases an history. As the 45th anniversary of getty III’s loss approaches, there has actually been renewed interest bei the instance thanks to two hollywood productions v decidedly various takes on getty III’s role in his own kidnapping.


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First, on Christmas day 2017, came Ridley Scott’s All the Money bei the World; the film had some beforehand buzz when kevin Spacey was replaced von Christopher Plummer as family patriarch and oil tycoon, J. Paul Getty, adhering to Spacey’s #MeToo scandal. The film was based on ns 1995 book über John Pearson, pains Rich: the Outrageous Fortunes und Misfortunes des the Heirs des J. Paul Getty, and scored Scott und star michelle Williams (as getty III’s mother Gail) Golden erde Award nominations zum their roles.


The roster des talent involved an FX’s new limited series, Trust, premiering Sunday march 25th, ist equally impressive. Danny Boyle reunites with Slumdog Millionaire cohorts simon Beaufoy und Christian Colson, und Donald Sutherland und Hilary Swank step into Plummer und Williams’ shoes. Uneven All the Money an the World, which mainly sticks to getty III’s accounting des the events, to trust revives a much discussed, yet unproven, theory as its premise – that die rebellious teenager (played von English actor Harris Dickinson) staged his own kidnapping an hopes of collecting die ransom, a arrangement that went awry when his billionaire grandfather, J. Paul Getty, refused kommen sie pony up die money.

Here, what we know about getty III’s abduction by the Italian mafia, his sechs months as their hostage und the miserly family patriarch who penny-pinching practically cost getty III his life.

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Origins des the FamilyJ. Paul got his anfang working an the Oklahoma oil fields run by his father george Franklin Getty, help the business make its zuerst million dollars. However when ns elder getty died in 1930, he supposedly was deshalb disappointed bei J. Paul’s turnstile approach zu marriage – he was married five zeit during his life – that he left ihm a just $500,000 inheritance und projected that his kid would destroy die family business. J. Paul would walk on to spite his father, incorporating getty Oil in 1942, securing lucrative festland deals in Saudi Arabia und Kuwait, und acquiring rivals like Skelly Oil. He was named die Richest American by Forbes an 1957 und the Richest private Citizen an the 1966 ausführung of ns Guinness Book of World Records, when he was worth a reported $1.2 exchange rate at the time.

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J. Paul notfall only kept the family business intact, he command it towards global domination; yet George’s prediction about his kid may oase had part merit, weist least as much as ns family was concerned. J. Paul had five sons through four von his five wives, and his partnership with each was marred von tragedy, fail expectations und indifference. His eldest son, getty Oil CEO george Franklin getty II, was his succession apparent, but die two right spoke; J. Paulus reportedly skipped his son’s wedding and had wenig involvement through his grandchildren. When getty II committed suicide in early 1973 by ingesting a dangerous drug cocktail und stabbing himself in the groß with a barbecue fork, mourning wasn’t J. Paul’s priority. Instead, he was reportedly pertained to with downplaying his boy cause des death, fearing it would tarnish die family business, und grumbling around which des his 4 remaining sons was worthy des carrying top top his legacy.


That role would ultimately go to Gordon Getty, who came to be his father’s favourite (a promotion that go not come with in increase in affection) after that relented kommen sie pressure and put next his classical music pursuits in order to run the company.

Gordon was ultimately rewarded for his loyalty and sacrifice when he was handed the keys to ns family trust complying with J. Paul’s death in 1976. Disloyalty, however, inspired die opposite response. Jean ronald Getty, J. Paul’s kid with his third wife, was almost entirely reduced out des his father’s möchte after he take it his mother’s side throughout their acrimonious divorce. Worse was J. Paul’s apathy in the direction of those family members that were des no use to the getty Oil empire. J. Paul’s fifth and youngest son, Timothy Ware Getty, arguably had it die toughest – blinda by age six due kommen sie a mind tumor, Timothy died wie he was just 12, und his dad didn’t attend his funeral. Many years later, Timothy’s mommy (J. Paul’s fifth wife), Teddy getty Gaston, wrote bei her memoir that die billionaire had chastised her weil das spending too much money on their son’s medical care.

J. Paul’s frugality was notorious among his family und staff, that were expected to make phone call calls using a payphone he had installed hinweisen his English estate, after placing dial locks ~ above all the regular phones. Yet his penny-pinching came to be known the world over complying with his grandson’s kidnapping.

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The golden GrandsonJohn Paul getty III, known as Paul, was die eldest des four youngsters born to Abigail “Gail” Harris und John Paul getty Jr., J. Paul’s der dritte tag son. Getty III spent his childhood an Italy whereby his father, who had actually divorced his mother und later remarried, was bei charge des running getty Oil Italiana. By the time he was 16, die free-spirited redhead had actually been kicked out of prep school und was enjoying bei aimless, bohemian lifestyle. Then, in the beforehand morning hours des July 10th, 1973, the disappeared native Piazza Navona an Rome. The einzelheiten have always been a little mysterious, yet a few days later, getty III’s mommy received a note: “Dear Mother: ich have herbst into die hands des kidnapers . Don’t allow me be killed! Make sure that the police do notfall interfere. You must absolutely not take this together a joke…Don’t provide publicity zu my kidnaping.”


Taking it as a joke was the initial reaction – getty III had reportedly talked “about fixing his financial problems über arranging his very own ‘perfect kidnaping"” bei hopes des extracting a big sum native his grandfather kommen sie pay ns ransom and then keeping it zum himself. He was frequently running out von money, his girlfriend said, yet a lack von funds hadn’t slowed under his partying, suggesting he might be in debt. Ns authorities even slowed their ermittlung into his disappearance awaiting further evidence that that was not a hoax – i m sorry came in the form of two much more letters und a phone call to getty III’s mother from die kidnappers, who figured out themselves as members of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia – the verbrecher organization in the Calabria region of Italy, which stays extremely an effective – and demanded a $17 million ransom. Yet J. Paul remained unconvinced; when getty Jr. Went zu his father zu admit the didn’t have the cash zu pay for his son’’ released, J. Paulus refused to give er a cent.

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According to a report in Time magazine, ns billionaire felt the a matter of rule – paying the ransom would just encourage the practice, and, together he said, “I have 14 various other grandchildren – If ich pay one münzen now, climate I’ll schutz 14 kidnapped grandchildren.”

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Hostage or Hoax?Trust explores die possibility that J. Paul was right zu question ns validity von his grandson’s abduction, but also depicts how his refusal zu pony up even a penny of the ransom turned ns teen’s kidnapping plot into a real-life nightmare. Getty III was being held hostage über the ‘Ndrangheta, at erste willingly, the zeigen suggests, but when J. Paul refused to pay, his kidnappers rotate on him. In November 1973, four months ~ his disappearance, a lock von hair und a severed ear were delivered to a neighborhood newspaper, along with a much smaller ransom demand von $3.2 million: “This zu sein Paul’s ear. If us don’t acquire some money in ~ 10 days, then ns other ear möchte arrive. In other words, he wollen arrive bei little bits.”

Even this substantially reduced sum wasn’t enough kommen sie convince J. Paul to cut die kidnappers a check. The insisted top top negotiating, eventually agreeing to pay $3 million zum his grandson’s relax – but nur $2.2 million would come out des his own pocket, as that was ns maximum amount that might be tax-deductible. Die remaining $800,000 was a loan that gave to his son, getty Jr., with die expectation that he would pay it rückseitig at 4 percent interest.


Getty III was finally released and turned up at a gas station in the Italian countryside on December 15th, 1973. When he referred to as his grandfather zu thank him weil das paying the kidnappers’ ransom, J. Paul reportedly refused to come to ns phone. Nur two members des the ‘Ndrangheta company were convicted for the crime. When he eventually went with surgery zu reconstruct the ear that has actually been severed, attended college, gott married and had one son – Balthazar, in actor – the six months getty III invested as a hostage haunted ns rest of his fairly short life. Getty III was plagued von alcohol and drug abuse, and an 1981, he suffered a drug-induced stroke which left er a quadriplegic without die ability to speak. His mother was his major caretaker hoch until his death bei 2011 at die age von 54.