Victims of kidnapping, more often than not, come out of the experience deeply traumatized and this was the case with John Paul Getty III, a young boy who perhaps many young boys his age from lesser fortunate families hoped to be like. Anyone who has ever skimmed through a list of richest individuals and families in the world over the last couple of decades has no doubt come across the name John Paul Getty.
The Getty family and John Paul Getty III, in particular, became very wealthy following the outstanding success of the Getty Oil Company in the United States during the 1950s. The company thereafter successfully expanded its operations beyond the shores of the US to become a powerhouse in the global oil industry and consequently, John Paul Getty’s wealth grew in leaps and bounds. Curious about the John Paul Getty III kidnapping in 1973? Look no further than this article as it lays out all that needs to be known about the incident and the events surrounding it.
Who was John Paul Getty III?
John Paul Getty III was the grandson of the billionaire business tycoon John Paul Getty and son of John Paul Getty Jr and Gail Harris. Getty III was born in the United States but was mostly raised in Rome as he and his parents moved there after his father was appointed the head of the Italian arm of the Getty Oil Company. His parents were divorced around the time he was eight years of age and the young Getty III continued to live with his mother in Rome. On the other hand, John Paul Getty Jr remarried a model, Talitha Pol.
Many would have regarded the young John Paul Getty III’s lifestyle and general outlook on life in the early 1970s as totally misaligned with that of his reserved billionaire grandfather. Although his father, John Paul Getty Jr was said to have had some hippie lifestyle tendencies, John Paul Getty III took his hippie ways to another level entirely. From being thrown out of boarding schools to excessive smoking and drinking, aligning with leftist ideologies and partaking in violent protests to living an absolutely bohemian lifestyle, he did it all.
The John Paul Getty III Kidnapping
The John Paul Getty III kidnapping happened in July 1973 in Rome. He was 16 years old at the time. This was carried out by an Italian gang known as the Ndrangheta. A few days after the kidnapping, his mother was contacted by the abductors would request a ransom of 17 million dollars. She insisted she could not raise that kind of money and so, they advised her to get it out of John Paul Getty who at the time was one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Although the group had been notorious for such activities and it came as no surprise that John Paul Getty would make a worthwhile target due to his family’s wealth, the kidnapping was beclouded by a lot of doubt as John Paul Getty III had mentioned a few times in the past how he would fake his own kidnapping in order to get some money out of his grandfather who at the time was famously close-fisted.
John Paul Getty Jr could not afford the ransom and he sought the assistance of his billionaire father who initially declined to help on the basis that John Paul Getty III was only one of his grandchildren and paying a ransom would only put others in harm’s way as they would soon begin to be abducted. This refusal only served to extend the young Getty’s stay in the captivity of his abductors who regularly tortured him.
After about four months without getting any money out of the Gettys, the abductors decided to take a different tact by slicing off one of Getty III’s ears and sending it with some of his hair to a media house, threatening to dismember his entire body in bits if they did not get the money they had asked for. This development caused the family, especially Getty III’s grandfather to spring to action. John Paul Getty ultimately parted with some three million dollars after stiff negotiations with the kidnappers. The kidnappers were eventually arrested and some of them convicted.
The John Paul Getty III kidnapping would wind up having a lasting impact on the man’s life as he went into a depressive state after he was set free and resorted to alcoholism and heavy abuse of drugs. This behavior led him to suffer liver failure and stroke which made him lose his autonomy for a very long time. He died in 2011 at the age of 54 in the United States.