Actor Balthazar Getty has released a statement that his father, J. Paul Getty III, passed away Feb. 6 in Buckinghamshire, England after a long illness. He was 54.
Getty III is most famous for being kidnapped in 1973 at the age of 16 in Rome, Italy. The Getty family received a ransom note for $17 million, but refused to pay because they thought it was a ploy for attention from their playboy son. His grandfather Jean Paul finally did negotiate with the kidnappers when Getty III’s severed ear was sent to them with a note saying that he would continue to arrive in little bits until the ransom was paid. Eventually a ransom of $2.9 million was paid by J. Paul Getty III’s grandfather. The kidnapping was always rumored to be the work of the ‘Ndrangheta, an Italian crime organization, but no one was ever caught.
Getty III married Gisela Zacher in 1974 and together they had actor Balthazar Getty a year later. They were later divorced. Getty III suffered a drug-overdose-induced stroke in 1981, leaving him paralyzed and nearly blind. He had been living with his mother Abigail in Ireland for the last ten years prior to his death.