Remember the shock back in 1973 when his kidnappers cut off his ear and mailed it to a newspaper to prove to the family they weren’t joking? Up until that moment, his grandfather, J. Paul Getty, had refused to pay any ransom, issuing this cold-hearted statement citing the fact that he had 14 grandchildren:
“If I pay one penny now, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.”
After the ear was mailed and the kidnappers reduced their ransom demand from $17 to 3 million, grandpa Getty coughed up $2.2 million, reportedly because that was the maximum that would be tax deductible – what a granddad!
Grandson Getty was released five month later, malnourished, bruised and missing an ear. At one time, Getty III was nicknamed the “golden hippie” for his bohemian lifestyle. But his life never did get back on track after the kidnapping. He lost himself in cocaine and heroin, and in 1981 an overdose caused him to have a stroke that left him paralyzed, partially blind and unable to speak. He was only 24 years old.
He lived 30 more years, dying this past weekend at his home in England. He was the father of two children, including actor Balthazar Getty.
R.I.P. John Paul Getty III