The Getty family curse refers to the family’s sad history of death, addiction, adultery and even kidnapping. Getty scion Balthazar Getty may have added a new entry: Tone-deaf interviews.
The actor, the great-grandson of oil billionaire J. Paul Getty, is featured in London’s Sunday Times where he talks about life where he doesn’t get up before 11 a.m. (despite having four children), has a maid bring him breakfast, his skin care regiment, the parties he throws with “anyone who is anyone” attending and a “nice collection” of motorcycles, including a 1969 BMW R69.
Possibly the only activity that does not make sound like a caricature from Gossip Girl is that he says he loves to bake. Although there are no photos to prove it.
"How rich am I? I don't know," he says. "Does money make you happy? The only people who say it doesn’t are rich people . . . they want it to be a secret." He's estimated to be worth nearly $200 million, according to the Times.
Oh, Balthazar. Have you learned nothing from another rich-for-nothing person, actual royal Prince William? Just talk about how cute your kids are or something!
The Internet, never one to miss a chance for populist rage, had many reactions.
To be fair, the Getty family has had its run of tragedy and misfortune. J. Paul Getty, who opened up Saudi Arabia to the international oil market, was believed to the world’s richest man in 1957 with a net worth between $700 million and $1 billion, according to Forbes. He was married five times and four sons.
J. Paul's son J. Paul Getty Jr., who lived a high-flying life in Rome, was addicted to heroin and his wife died of heroin overdose in 1971. Another of J. Paul Getty’s sons, George Franklin Getty II, killed himself in 1973. A second son had died in 1958. One of J. Paul Getty personal assistants, Claus von Bulow, was accused of attempting to murder his wife, Sunny von Bulow, who lived for nearly 28 years in a vegetative state after a brain injury. J. Paul Getty's grandson Andrew Getty (the son of Gordon Getty, who is thought to be worth an estimated $2 billion) died in 2015 from intestinal hemorrhage and acute methamphetamine intoxication.
Perhaps the worst fate was reserved for Balthazar Getty’s father, J. Paul Getty III, who was kidnapped by Italian Calabrists in 1973. First, the kidnapping was believed to be faked and then J. Paul Getty refused to pay the ransom, famously saying “I have 14 other grandchildren. If I pay one penny, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.” The kidnappers cut off Getty III’s ear, and his grandfather eventually paid a reduced amount of $2.2 million in ransom (the maximum amount that could be tax deductible), and Getty’s father paid $1 million, lent to him by J. Paul Getty with interest. Getty III suffered a stroke in 1981 due to intense drug use, and spent the last 30 years of his life blind, paraplegic and with a severe speech impediment.
Balthazar also fell victim to alcohol and heroin for a time. He says in the interview that he still drinks and “a spliff,” but he doesn't "share the AA view that I’ll always be an alcoholic" and he has the “self-will” to know when to stop. Expensive rehab probably also had nothing to do with quitting, right?
Balthazar also notes to the Times his affair with actress with Sienna Miller, who had been dating his co-star Matthew Rhys, which led to a two-year separation from his wife. “At the time, I wondered if I was destined to follow the same path as my father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Now I think it was a case of shit happens to us all.”
Between this and the Louise Linton piece earlier this summer in the Times, it’s worth wondering if the Times is trying to revive populism or have just significantly upped their populist trolling game.