The Tragic True Story Of The Getty Kidnapping – The Topic Of Kevin Spacey’s Latest Film — Nigeria Today
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The Tragic True Story Of The Getty Kidnapping – The Topic Of Kevin Spacey’s Latest Film

At first, John Paul Getty refused to pay a ransom for his grandson, declaring:

“I have 14 other grandchildren. If I pay one penny, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.”

Fair enough, right?

Hell no.

The name Getty might ring a bell.

There’s Getty Images, Getty Oil and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. They were, indeed, all started by the same man, explains Town and Country Magazine:

During his heyday in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, J. Paul Getty racked up millions in oil money and, along the way, married five women with whom he had five sons.

Despite being crowned the richest man in the country by Forbes in 1957, J. Paul developed a reputation for being a terrible cheapskate, famously going so far as to temporarily install a payphone for guests to use at his house in London.

It’s no surprise that his family relationships were fraught:

His son John Paul Getty Jr. had four sons of his own with his wife Gail Harris; John Paul Getty III was born in 1956. John Paul Jr. and Harris divorced in 1964, and John Paul Jr. moved to Rome, where he married Talitha Pol and reportedly became a heroin addict.

John Paul III also lived in Italy as a young teenager, first at boarding school. He was expelled, however, and even though his father left Rome for England shortly afterward (following Talitha Getty’s heroin overdose) the teenaged Getty III continued living on his own in the Italian city.

And it’s John Paul III that is the subject of the film that Kevin Spacey got booted out of even though production was complete. Read here for the low-down on that saga.

The first feature film about the family, All The Money In The World tells the story of the tragic kidnapping of John Paul III and how his grandfather treated the incident:

On July 10, 1973, when he was 16 years old, John Paul Getty III disappeared. Two days later, his mother received a ransom note asking for around $17 million dollars.

Harris didn’t have the money, and the police—and even some members of the Getty family—expressed doubt that the boy really had been abducted. Getty III had often joked that he would stage his own kidnapping to squeeze money out of his miserly grandfather.

The ransom remained unpaid, even after the kidnappers sent Harris a letter from her son that read, “Dear Mummy, Since Monday I have fallen into the hands of kidnappers. Don’t let me be killed.”

The Getty family member who did have the money—patriarch J. Paul senior—refused to pay, saying, “I have 14 other grandchildren. If I pay one penny, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.” Getty III was held by the kidnappers in the mountains of Calabria for months.

Getty III’s kidnappers eventually cut off his ear and mailed it with a lock of his hair to a newspaper in Rome. Pictures of Getty [above] with his ear severed, and more pleas to his family to pay the ransom, soon appeared in another paper.

Eventually, his grandfather agreed to pay the captors, but only a much reduced ransom. The final amount, $3 million, was the most his accountants said would be tax-deductible, according to a 1995 book about the family by John Pearson. John Paul II paid the rest with a loan from the Getty patriarch—to be repaid with four percent interest.

In December of that year, John Paul III was released, and found at an abandoned gas station.

Unfortunately, John Paul III was ruined after that. He married Gisela Zacher – six years his senior – at the age of 18, fathered two children, struggled with addiction and, in 1981, had a narcotics-induced stroke leaving him paralysed, nearly blind and requiring care for the rest of his life.

After a tragic life, he passed away in 2011.

Yeah, money sure is the route of all evil.


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