Kidnapping Victim J. Paul Getty III Dead at 54
Kidnappers cut off oil heir's ear in 1973
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2011 1:38 AM CST
Updated Feb 8, 2011 6:00 AM CST
To free his grandson, oil billionaire Paul Getty contributed $2.2 million toward the ransom and loaned his son the rest, at 4% interest.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – J. Paul Getty III, grandson of oil tycoon and notorious miser J. Paul Getty, has died at the age of 54. Getty was best known to the public for his misfortunes—most notably, he was kidnapped as a teen in Italy in 1973, the Los Angeles Times reports. His grandfather—declaring then that “If I pay one penny now, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren"—refused to fork over the ransom for several months. He finally relented and settled for a reduced figure only after the kidnappers sent the boy's severed ear to a Rome newspaper.

Getty became addicted to drugs and alcohol in the years after his ordeal. In 1981, he suffered a drug-induced stroke that left him partially blind and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Getty, the father of two and grandfather of six, "taught us how to live our lives and overcome obstacles and extreme adversity, and we shall miss him dearly," his son, actor Balthazar Getty, said in a statement.