How Rich Was J. Paul Getty, The Oil Billionaire Who Was Once The Richest Man In The World?

How Rich Was J. Paul Getty, The Oil Billionaire Who Was Once The Richest Man In The World?
Jean Paul Getty had an estimated net worth of $2 billion at the time of his death in 1976. Getty Images | Photo by Hulton Archive

Name Jean Paul Getty
Net Worth $2 Billion (at the time of death)
Salary N/A
Annual income N/A
Sources of income Business ventures
DOB December 15, 1892
Age 83 (at the time of his death)
Gender Male
Nationality  United States of America
Profession Businessman

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Billionaire businessman Jean Paul Getty had an estimated net worth of $2 billion at the time of his death in 1976, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Paul Getty built his fortune as the founder of Getty Oil Company. He was one of the first people in the world to have made over $1 billion. He became the richest living American in 1957, and by 1966 he was named the world's richest private citizen with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion.

American industrialist billionaire J. Paul Getty, circa 1935. | Getty Images | Photo by Archive Photos
American industrialist billionaire J. Paul Getty, circa 1935. | Getty Images | Photo by Archive Photos

Father’s Oil Company And Inheritance

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Paul Getty’s father George Getty worked as an attorney in the insurance industry. He purchased 1,100 acres of land in Oklahoma where oil was discovered. Soon the land began producing 100,000 barrels of crude oil per month making the family millionaires.

Paul Getty received $10,000 from his father to expand the family's oil field holdings. His first lot became extremely successful and Paul Getty too became a millionaire from the royalty he had accrued from its production. After his father’s death, Paul Getty received only $500,000 inheritance, a fraction of the $10 million fortune, as his father disliked Paul Getty’s chaotic personal life, as per Celebrity Net Worth

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Despite receiving a small inheritance, Paul Getty invested it wisely and acquired Pacific Western Oil Corporation, Tidewater Oil, and Skelly Oil. He merged these holdings and founded Getty Oil.

J. Paul Getty  points out the town of Al Wafrah on a map of southern Kuwait to King Saud bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia | Getty Images | Photo by Archive Photos
J. Paul Getty points out the town of Al Wafrah on a map of southern Kuwait to King Saud bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia | Getty Images | Photo by Archive Photos

In a historic deal, Paul Getty negotiated to purchase the rights to the Saudi Arabian Neutral Zone oil concession from Ibn Saud in 1948. His company finally discovered oil in 1953 and began producing 16 million barrels a year, making him one of the richest people in the world. He further expanded his business in the Middle East, gaining the controlling interest in around 200 businesses, thanks to his wealth and ability to speak Arabic.

Paul Getty wrote several books on art collection. Some of his books were "Collector's Choice: The Chronicle of an Artistic Odyssey through Europe" and "The Joys of Collecting."

 J. Paul Getty attends a private viewing of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London | Getty Images | Photo by McKeown
J. Paul Getty attends a private viewing of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London | Getty Images | Photo by McKeown

Paul Getty bought several expensive properties including a 72-room mansion called the Sutton Place. He bought the property with the Tudor manor house from the Duke of Sutherland.

J. Paul Getty outside Sutton Place, his Tudor manor house in Surrey | Getty Images | Photo by Express Newspapers
J. Paul Getty outside Sutton Place, his Tudor manor house in Surrey | Getty Images | Photo by Express Newspapers

However, his most famous property was the 64-acre ranch that was once part of the Rancho Boca de Santa Monica. Paul Getty intended to make the ranch a weekend retreat, where he could ride horses and display his growing art collection. He remodeled the “Ranch House,” adding a second story and several Spanish-style features and it was later developed by an English curator and named "The Getty Villa".

 The Getty Villa and surrounding home | Getty Images | Photo by Paul Harris
The Getty Villa and surrounding home | Getty Images | Photo by Paul Harris

When Getty left the United States permanently in 1951, his sons Teddy and Timmy, continued to develop the property and fill it with works of art. In 1954, the property was opened to the public as the J. Paul Getty Museum.

The Central Garden of the Getty Center | Getty Images | Photo by David McNew
The Central Garden of the Getty Center | Getty Images | Photo by David McNew

 

Paul Getty had a reputation for being a womanizer. At the age of 25, he was involved in a paternity suit when Elsie Eckstrom claimed that Paul Getty was the father of her daughter Paula. The case ended in a settlement of $10,000.

Paul Getty first got married to Jeanette Demont in 1923. The couple had one son together, George, before divorcing in 1926. Paul Getty then married 17-year-old Allene Ashby and remained together until 1928. The same year, he married Adolphine Helmle, who was also 17, and the two had one son together, Jean, and divorced in 1932. He then married Ann Rork, and divorced her in 1936 after having two sons, John Jr. and Gordon.

His final marriage was with Louise Lynch whom he married in 1939. They had one son together in 1946 named Timothy. Timothy had a brain tumor and died at the age of 12. Getty was living in England at the time and refused to attend his funeral. Lynch divorced him the following year.

J. Paul Getty and Louise Dudley Lynch | Getty Images
J. Paul Getty and Louise Dudley Lynch | Getty Images

Paul Getty was known to be extremely frugal, and he even did his laundry by hand. He once refused to pay a ransom of $3 million for one of his grandsons, John Paul Getty III,  until John Paul's ear was chopped and sent to him. That too, out of the total sum, he took out $2.8 million from his son’s will (the father of the child) and loaned him the remaining 800k at a 4% interest rate.

Paul Getty, died in 1976, due to heart failure at the age of 83. He left the bulk of his estate to the Getty Museum, but his children also inherited billions through a trust with interests in Getty Oil. While most of his children kept a low profile after the sale of Getty Oil to Texaco in 1980, his grandson Mark Getty, remained in the public eye. He consolidated the stock photography business through Getty Images, and sold it to private equity firm Hellman & Friedman in 2008 for $2.4 billion, retaining the position of the company’s chairman. In 2015, Forbes estimated the Getty Family to be worth $5.4 billion.

Mark Getty during The International Center of Photography's Twenty-First Annual Infinity Awards | Getty Images | Photo by Lawrence Lucier
Mark Getty during The International Center of Photography's Twenty-First Annual Infinity Awards | Getty Images | Photo by Lawrence Lucier

 

How old was J. Paul Getty when he died?

J. Paul Getty was 83 years old at the time of his death. 

Was John Paul Getty found alive?

Paul was found alive oin a petrol station shortly after the ransom was paid. 

Who inherited the Getty fortune?

A bulk of J. Paul Getty, founder of Getty Oil's estate went to the Getty Museum, and his children, grand children also inherited billions. 

What was J. Paul Getty's net worth at the time of his death?

Jean Paul Getty had an estimated net worth of $2 billion at the time of his death in 1976.

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