Art Patron and World’s Richest Man Finds “publicity, particularly in connection with wealth, very burdensome”

Signed by J. Paul Getty

Item: 21719
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GETTY, J(OHN) PAUL. (1892-1976). American industrialist, art collector and founder of the Getty Oil Company; by the 1950s Getty was the world’s richest man. TLS. (“J. Paul Getty”). 1p. 4to. Rome, December 30, 1965. To Ernest Kay, Managing Editor of Time and Tide magazine in London.

Please excuse my delay in answering yours of December 3, 1965.

I respect Time and Tide and wish it well but I am trying to avoid any additional publicity as I find publicity, particularly in connection with wealth, very burdensome. It exposes me to thousands of letters from people who want money, personal interviews, to sell art objects, etc. It is one thing to be publicized in a $5 book and another thing to be featured in the daily press or weeklies read by thousands of people. I hope you will understand my position…”

J. Paul Getty

Getty built upon his early success in his father’s Oklahoma oil business, acquiring the Pacific Western Oil Corporation during the Great Depression and creating Getty Oil. In 1949, he began drilling for oil in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, gaining an advantage from his study of Arabic and other foreign languages while at Oxford. His continued expansion of his oil empire led Fortune magazine to name him the world’s wealthiest American in 1957 and in 1966, the Guinness Book of Records labeled him the wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $1.2 billion. Despite his frugal nature, Getty used his vast wealth to build a collection of art that included paintings by Rubens, Titian, Gainsborough, Renoir, Degas, and Monet, and authored several books about art and art collecting. His art collection formed the nucleus of Los Angeles’ J. Paul Getty Museum to which he left the bulk of his wealth. Getty’s aversion to the spotlight proved well-founded when, in 1973, his grandson John Paul Getty III, was kidnapped and held for ransom. Getty initially refused to pay despite threats to his grandson’s life, not wanting to set a precedent that would endanger his other grandchildren. However, he acquiesced to pay a portion of the ransom after the family received the 16-year-old’s cut off ear in the mail.

Founded as a left-leaning feminist magazine by a British suffragette, Time and Tide’s contributors included Emma Goldman, Graham Greene, D.H. Lawrence, G.K. Chesterton, George Orwell, Emmeline Pankhurst, George Bernard Shaw, Rebecca West, and Virginia Woolf. By the 1960s, it had morphed into a political news magazine, ceasing publication in 1986.

Folded with a very faint paperclip impression in the upper left corner. Normal wear and in very fine condition.

Art Patron and World’s Richest Man Finds “publicity, particularly in connection with wealth, very burdensome”

Signed by J. Paul Getty

$250 • item #21719

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