On this day in 1973, John Paul Getty III was kidnapped. While living in Italy, he was kidnapped by a bunch of mafia affiliated people, trying to get some money out of his billionaire grandfather. They asked for $17 million. So the guy’s father asked granddad for the money, but he refused. He claimed that it was to protect his other 14 grandchildren, who would all be threatened if the ransom was paid. It was just hogwash, of course; Jean Paul Getty Sr simply cared more about his money than did about any human being.
Four months later, Getty Jr got a letter from the kidnappers with a his son’s ear. But they had reduced the price to $3.2 million. Getty Jr again went to granddad, who agreed to give him $2.2 million — because that was as much as he could write off. The rest of the money he provided as a loan at 4% interest. Remember: Getty Sr had a couple of billion dollars. But note that he was no longer concerned about his other 14 grandchildren. John Paul Getty III was returned alive, but missing an ear.
I’ll write about Bill Cosby later today with regard to the way that great power corrupts people. But with people like Jean Paul Getty Sr, I wonder if it isn’t that psychopaths like him are just really good at making money. Of course, it’s not like Getty was that great at making money. His father was a rich oil man. Jean Paul Getty Sr was born into the business. Regardless: what a waste of a life.
We mark this day 42 years later for the fascinating glimpse it gives us into the messed up lives of the rich and famous.