Random Thoughts

The Getty Kidnapping, part 1

 

March 12, 2021



In a previous article, we looked at one of the most famous kidnapping cases of the 20th century: that of Charles and Anne Lindbergh’s son, Charles Jr. Sadly, that terrible event ended with the child’s murder.

Kidnapping is a concern for many people, especially those who, like the Lindberghs, are (or were) rich and famous. A couple of other prominent kidnappings that come to mind are those from the middle of the last century involving heirs to fortunes: Patty Hearst and Frank Sinatra Jr.

Both of those cases ended with the kidnapped individuals being unharmed physically. The psychological toll they suffered, however, had to affect them adversely. Hearst even claimed that being brainwashed by her captors led her to commit an armed bank robbery while in captivity.

Another famous kidnapping case from the mid-20th century saw the victim surviving his ordeal but not without permanent physical injuries and psychological damage from which he never recovered.

The victim of this heinous crime was John Paul Getty III, the grandson of the purported richest man in the world, oilman Jean Paul Getty. The elder Getty was born in Minnesota in 1892, the son of a lawyer who became rich drilling for oil in Oklahoma in the early 1900s.


As the only child of George and Sarah Getty, Jean Paul inherited the family fortune and increased it greatly. When Jean Paul Getty died in 1976 he was worth more than $six billion (which would be more than $20 billion today)!

Jean Paul apparently did not like his first name, preferring “John” instead. Thus, he always went by “John Paul” or simply “J. Paul.”

Apparently, also, is the fact that money doesn’t buy happiness; J. Paul Getty was married and divorced five times! He always said he regretted that none of these unions lasted.

While none of Getty’s marriages became permanent, four of them produced children. He became the father of five sons and, eventually, 14 grandchildren.

Next week, we will see what happened when one of the latter was kidnapped in 1973.

 

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