The Ultimate Gift
“A lasting relationship with a woman is only possible if you are a business failure.”1 Despite lousy pickup lines like that, J. Paul Getty had—and lost—five wives. Maybe it was because he was rich? Actually, he wasn’t just rich. Fortune magazine named him the richest living American in 1957. He is rumored to have made his first million in 19162—two years after completing college—and subsequently pseudo-retired in 1917 to live the high life in sunny L.A.
George Getty, his father, apparently never much approved of his son’s style and told him he expected him to destroy the family company before he died. His father was wrong about his son’s business acumen, but the fractured relationship did pass from George to J. Paul, then to his six sons. True to form, J. Paul Getty refused the initial request of his son, Jean Paul Getty, Jr., for ransom money when his grandson, Getty III, was kidnapped. “The boy’s grandfather only changed his mind after one of the boy’s ears was cut off and sent to a newspaper,” reported the BBC News.3 Some legacy.
In the end, a person is only known by the impact he or she has on others.
Contrast that with the scene I witnessed at the funeral of a close friend’s father in 2008, in the middle of the darkest days of the financial crisis. The room was filled with friends, family, and employees of the deceased, and I recall feeling as though time had stopped for that couple of hours. No one ...