Inside tragedy of the Getty family – from violent kidnapping to heroin overdose

The death of John Gilbert Getty, grandson of oil tycoon J Paul Getty, is the latest in a long string of tragedies for the family.

The 52-year-old heir to the £3.7billion Getty oil fortune was found unresponsive in a hotel room in Texas on Friday.

The family once held the largest private fortune in America, but have long been plagued by a string of tragedies.

It all started with patriarch John Paul Getty, who racked up millions in oil money, and along the way married five women who he had five children with.

J Paul Getty died of heart failure at the age of 83 in 1976, leaving his fortune to his descendants.

But his family were plagued by a long line of tragedies which have led some to speak of a “Getty curse”.

In 2014 John Gilbert’s brother Andrew was found dead at his home in Los Angeles after suffering intestinal bleeding.

The 54-year-old had a toxic level of metamphetamine in his system when he was found dead by his girlfriend.

This happened only months after their mother Ann died at the age of 79.

John and Andrew’s father Gordon lost a brother to a brain tumour as a child, and another to a suspected overdose.

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Meanwhile, his sister-in-law Talitha Pol died from a heroin overdose.

Talitha had married John Paul Getty in 1996, but died six years later.

However, the most mysterious case of all was the kidnapping of oil tycoon John Paul Getty III – the grandson of the family’s patriarch Getty Sr.

He was kidnapped by Italian gangsters when he was a teenager in Rome in 1973.

Getty III was held to ransom, but his grandfather, Getty Sr, initially refused to pay.

At the time, he said: “I have 14 grandchildren and if I pay one penny ransom, I'll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.”

However, he is eventually thought to have paid around $3million (£2.25million) after the kidnappers cut off the teenager’s ear and threatened to return him piece by piece.

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Getty III began using drugs and later suffered a debilitating stroke in his 20s which left him paralysed and nearly blind. He died aged 54 in 2011.

But the family tragedies don’t stop there.

Getty Sr’s youngest child, Timothy Ware Getty, died at the age of 12 in 1958 after suffering from a brain tumour.

Another one of his sons called George died in a suspected suicide in 1973.

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