J. Paul Getty biography
J. Paul Getty was born on December 15, 1892, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1914, Getty began brokering oil leases for his father. In 1916, he established his first successful oil well in Oklahoma. In the 1920s, he drilled in California and continued to amass his fortune. When his father, George Getty, died in 1930, he became president of the Getty Oil Company. In 1967, after gaining control of multiple oil interests, he merged them into the Getty Oil Company, serving as its president until his death on June 6, 1976, in Surrey, England. Getty died one of the wealthiest people in America.
J. Paul Getty was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on December 15, 1892. In 1903, his father, former attorney George Franklin Getty, entered the oil industry. The following year, George, J. Paul and J. Paul's mother, Sarah Risher Getty, moved to Oklahoma. In 1905, the family pulled up stakes again, and relocated to Los Angeles, California, where J. Paul was raised.
J. Paul Getty graduated from Los Angeles' Polytechnic High School in 1909. He spent the next couple of years attending the University of Southern California at Los Angeles and the University of California at Berkley, and then transferred to Oxford University in London. In 1914, Getty graduated from Oxford with a degree in politic science and economics.
Following graduation, J. Paul Getty returned to California and began working as a wildcatter, buying and selling oil leases for his father. By 1916, the younger Getty had made millions on his first successful well. He retired and lived the life of a playboy for two years before going back into the oil business in 1919. Throughout the 1920s, he and his father continued to amass wealth through drilling and lease brokering. George gained the confidence in his son to grant him a third of his company's interest. When George passed away in 1930, J. Paul received a $500,000 inheritance and became the company's president.
In his new position, Getty set out to restructure and expand the company into a self-sufficient business—one that did everything from drill to refine, transport and sell oil. In that vein, he started taking over other oil companies. By the 1950s, he had gained control of Skelly Oil, Tidewater Oil and Mission Corporation. The companies merged into the Getty Oil Company in 1967. Getty would serve as the company's president for the rest of his life, building a personal fortune of roughly $4 billion in the process. In addition to his work in the oil business, Getty made several successful real-estate investments in the hotel industry, including the Pierre Hotel in New York City.
Getty married and divorced five times. His first marriage, which took place in 1923, was to Jeannette Dumont. Dumont gave him his first child, George Franklin Getty II. In 1925, he married Allene Ashby, and then wed Adolphine Helme in 1928. His marriage to Helm resulted in a second son, Jean Ronald. In 1932, Getty married starlet Ann Rork.
The couple had two more sons: Eugene Paul and Gordon Peter. Getty's fifth wife was singer Louise Lynch; the couple married in 1930 and divorced in 1958. Getty's son with Lynch, Timothy, tragically died at age 12.
Death and Legacy
J. Paul Getty died of heart failure on June 6, 1976, at his mansion in Surrey, England. His expansive art collection is displayed at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Upon his death, Getty bequeathed $1.2 billion to his charitable trust, the Getty Foundation, to be used toward endowment of the arts.