Getty oil heir’s death latest in string of family tragedies

Andrew Getty
Andrew Getty

LOS ANGELES: It’s a family name that has long been associated with unimaginable wealth and sometimes unspeakable tragedy.

The mysterious death of J. Paul Getty’s grandson Andrew Getty is just the latest example of the latter.
Andrew Getty, 47, was found dead after authorities said his girlfriend called emergency services to report discovering his bloodied body at his Hollywood Hills mansion.

He appeared to have died of natural causes, coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said, but he added it could take more than two months to determine the exact cause.

The reclusive Getty had said in recent court documents that he was battling a “serious medical condition” that could endanger his life.

He and other heirs of oil baron J. Paul Getty have managed to maintain a significant share of the fortune their patriarch left behind, but the money hasn’t shielded subsequent generations from drug addiction, premature death, tabloid scandal and violent attacks by others.

“The story of the famed Getty family is one of the most obvious examples that money, cold hard cash, doesn’t buy happiness,” Forbes Magazine reported in a profile last year when it listed the combined family fortune at $5 billion – 54th highest on its list of America’s most wealthy.

Andrew Getty’s cousin J. Paul Getty III was kidnapped in Italy in 1973. When his wealthy grandfather was slow to pay a ransom, kidnappers cut off the 16-year-old’s ear and threatened to return him piece by piece if they didn’t get money.

The oil baron, who previously told reporters, “I have 14 grandchildren and if I pay one penny ransom, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren,” eventually coughed up a sum reported to be $3 million.

Once released, the teenager resumed a jet-set lifestyle of abusing drugs and consorting with rock stars until he suffered a debilitating stroke in his 20s. He died in 2011 at age 54. His stepmother, actress Talitha Pol, who had lived her own jet-set life, died of a heroin overdose in 1971.

Marilynne DeJonge, the mother of Andrew Getty’s girlfriend, said Getty told her daughter Lanessa DeJonge that he’d been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. -AP

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