[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April, 2003, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Obituary: Sir John Paul Getty II
Sir John Paul Getty II
Sir Paul was a cricket fan

A series of family tragedies and drug addiction turned Sir John Paul Getty II into a mysterious figure.

Known as Sir Paul, he settled in Britain, but was rarely seen as he donated vast sums from the Getty family fortune to causes in his adopted country.

Born in California in 1932, Sir Paul was a son of J. Paul Getty, the oil tycoon and reputedly the richest man in the world.

He studied at San Francisco University and served in the US Army in Korea, before joining the family oil business in Italy.

His second wife was Talitha Pol, granddaughter of the artist Augustus John.

Their hippie lifestyle included the use of hard drugs, and Talitha died of a heroin overdose in 1971 - the first tragedy to blight the life of her husband.

Son's kidnapping horror

The second came two years later, when Sir Paul's eldest son Paul, then 17, was kidnapped by Italian terrorists, who demanded a ransom of more than $3m.

The boy's grandfather refused to help pay the ransom, believing it would endanger his other grandchildren.

He relented only when the kidnappers cut off Paul's ear and sent it to the family.

National Gallery in London
Sir Paul gave 50m to the National Gallery
Sir Paul moved to London, living as a recluse and receiving treatment for his drug addiction.

Tragedy struck again in 1981, when son Paul, the kidnap victim, took a drugs overdose and had a stroke which left him paralysed and virtually blind.

His father became more reclusive but, like his father before him, he became a committed Anglophile and took British citizenship.

He also started using his vast fortune for the benefit of his adopted country.

In 10 years from 1984 he gave away 140m, much of it in support of the arts.

The largest gift was of 50m to the National Gallery for the purchase of art treasures.

Ironically, Sir Paul's money helped prevent such precious artefacts as Antonio Canova's statue, The Three Graces, being bought by his father's pride and joy, the Getty Museum in California.

Other beneficiaries included the British film industry, the Imperial War Museum, Ely Cathedral, and even the families of striking miners in 1984.

Cricketing passion

Through his friend, Mick Jagger, Sir Paul also developed a love of cricket, a passion which led to a 2m gift to Lords cricket ground to build the new Mound Stand.

He bought Wisden, publishers of the cricketers' almanac, famously travelled to watch overseas Test matches on his yacht, the Talitha G, and had his own cricket ground built at his 3,000-acre estate in Buckinghamshire.

Sir Paul's philanthropy earned him an honorary knighthood from the Queen in 1986.

In 1994 he married for the third time, to Victoria Holdsworth, a former model. He had five children from his earlier marriages.

Billionaire Getty dies
17 Apr 03  |  UK

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific