Industrialist, Philanthropist, Author. He was born Jean Paul Getty in Minneapolis the son of George Franklin Getty, a lawyer whose business venture became the Minnehoma Oil Company located in Tulsa. The family would settle in Los Angeles where Jean Paul grew up. His education was extensive...attended Harvard Military Academy and Polytechnic High in Los Angeles. He enrolled at the University of Southern California transferring to the University of California at Berkeley and upon completion studied at Oxford in England in politics and economics. He became fluent in German, French and Italian. His knowledge of the art world was expert and he could read Latin and ancient Greek. At 21 he arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma ready for work at his father's Minnehoma Oil Company which he eventually inherited. Getty would parlay this into ownership of Tidewater Oil, Skelly Oil, Getty Oil and over 200 other major enterprises. A few examples...The Pierre Hotel in New York City, the Marques Hotel in Acapulco, Mexico, the 22 story Getty Bldg in Manhattan and others in Los Angeles and Tulsa, a tanker fleet, (one a namesake) An Insurance Company and a mobile home manufacturing plant. Beside the Getty Villa in California and Sutton Place, London, he owned a mansion at Mina Saud on the Persian Gulf and a 15th century castle at Ladispoli on the coast in Italy. His art collecting hobby became vast major collections and were priceless. During World War II, he personally pleaded with the Under Secretary of the Navy for sea duty. However, rejected because of age, he was asked instead to use his Spartan Aircraft Company in Tulsa to aid the war effort. Under his personal direction it manufactured trainers and plane parts. He moved to England in the 50's to be in a better position to manage his Middle East oil holding. Getty made his home in a 16th century 72-room mansion called Sutton Place located at Guildford, Surrey 35 miles from London. Here he died at 83 from heart failure. His remains were returned to his Malibu Villa in California. Previously prepared graves in a shady spot near a bench where Getty often sat looking out over the Pacific awaited. A swift direct burial followed after garden workers unloaded his remains and those of two sons exhumed for re burial. No family or friends were present. The graves were temporary until elaborate chambers were constructed and the remains reinterred. Legacy...Through his foundation, he has funded museums, art and cultural institutions around the world. Southern California has been the major recipient with two locations: The Getty Villa in Malibu houses over 44,000 works of art mainly Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities while serving as an educational center of ancient arts and cultures of Greece, Rome and Etruscan. The vast Getty center in Los Angeles houses thousands of European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts and European American photographs. He wrote many articles which appeared in major magazines and compiled two books..."My Life and Fortunes" 1953 by Duell, Sloan & Pearce; "How to Be Rich" 1965 by Playboy press consisting of his magazine articles. A biography by Ralph Hewins "The Richest American" by Dutton appeared in 1960. Odd personal trivia in the life of the eccentric Getty...He stood before the marriage altar five times and all ended in divorce. Son J. Paul Getty Jr. and a rebellious grandson J. Paul Getty III mirrored his own odd behavior. His grandson's 1973 kidnapping in Italy in 1973 with a ransom demand of 16 million was asked to be paid by him. Thinking the affair was stagged and planned, his balked response, "Keep him, I have 14 other grandchildren."
Bio by: Donald Greyfield