J. Paul Getty III’s Life Is Being Turned into an FX Series, and Here’s Why You Need to Watch

From a horrific kidnapping to partying with Warhol, the oil heir lived an eccentric and tragic life
In 2013, Charles Fox published an account of Getty III's life.
In 2013, Charles Fox published an account of Getty III’s life.

The name Getty is well-known in L.A., conjuring up halcyon images of the stark, serene museum lofted on the banks of the 405 Freeway.

But the family’s life was anything but idyllic. After patriarch J. Paul Getty made billions in the oil business, the clan was beset by tragedy. It’s that tragedy—and the conniving relationships, and the family drama—that will provide the fodder for a new FX series, Trust, announced today.

The series, of which FX has ordered ten episodes, will tell the story of Getty’s grandson, J. Paul Getty III. In order to know why this show is going to be a must-watch, here are five things you need to know about the strange and tragic life of the oil heir:

  1. J. Paul Getty was kidnapped from Rome at age 16 by men with mafia ties, and at first, his family refused to pay any ransom. Three months in, his captors chopped off his ear and mailed it to his family, along with a lock of his hair.
  2. When the kidnappers asked his billionaire grandfather for ransom, he famously told them, “I have 14 grandchildren … if I pay one penny ransom, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.”
  3. After the kidnapping, Getty III became an eccentric socialite, partying with Andy Warhol and other artists at The Factory.
  4. In 1981, Getty III overdosed on drugs and had a massive stroke, confining him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
  5. In 1999, it was revealed that Getty III’s uncle, Gordon Getty, had a second family, including three daughters who were born while he was married to Getty III’s aunt.

Trust will be written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Danny Boyle, who also worked together on Slumdog Millionaire and Steve Jobs.