Richest BusinessRichest Billionaires
Net Worth:
$2.1 Billion
Dec 20, 1934 (89 years old)
San Francisco
United States of America
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What is Gordon Getty's Net Worth?

Gordon Getty is an American businessman, investor, philanthropist and classical music composer who has a net worth of $2.1 billion.

Gordon Getty is the fourth child of billionaire industrialist J. Paul Getty, who was once the richest person in the world. When his father passed away in 1976, Gordon assumed control of J. Paul Getty's $2 billion trust. As a composer of classical music, Getty has created piano pieces, choral works, and operas, including "Usher House" and "The Canterville Ghost."

Getty Oil Sale

Gordon Getty was the sole trustee of the Getty Oil trust after his father, J. Paul Getty, died in 1976. In the early 1980s, Getty Oil was the largest independent oil company in the United States. However, it was also facing increasing competition from larger oil companies.

In 1984, Getty Oil was approached by Texaco with an offer to buy the company for $10.1 billion. Getty Oil's board of directors initially rejected the offer, but Getty himself was in favor of selling. He believed that the company would be better off under the ownership of a larger company, and he also wanted to cash out some of his shares.

Getty orchestrated the sale of Getty Oil to Texaco in a series of complex maneuvers. He first had the board of directors replaced with directors who were more likely to approve the sale. He then negotiated a deal with Texaco that gave him and his family a significant stake in the new company.

The sale of Getty Oil to Texaco was finalized in 1984. The deal was controversial, but it ultimately benefited Getty and his family. Getty Oil's shareholders received a large payout, and Getty himself became one of the richest men in the world.

However, the sale of Getty Oil also had some negative consequences. The company's assets were divided up, and its employees were laid off. The sale also led to a long legal battle between Getty and Texaco.

In 1985, Getty orchestrated the breakup of the Getty Oil trust into six separate trusts. This was done to protect his family's wealth and to avoid future legal challenges. The trusts are still in existence today, and they control a significant amount of wealth.

Early Life and Education

Gordon Getty was born on December 20, 1933 in Los Angeles, California as the fourth child of billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, who was then married to Ann Rork. He had a brother named John Jr., plus three half-brothers named George, Jean, and Timothy from his father's various other marriages. Raised in San Francisco, Getty went to St. Ignatius College Preparatory and the University of San Francisco. He earned his bachelor's degree in music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Business Career

Although his interests lied elsewhere, Getty joined the oil business to appease his father. Upon the death of his father in 1976, he inherited his father's $2 billion trust. A decade later, Getty sold the family's Getty Oil to Texaco for $10 billion.

In his own business ventures, he founded the company ReFlow in 2002; it specializes in the temporary purchase of shares in mutual funds. Getty also founded PlumpJack Winery with Gavin Newsom, many years before Newsom became the governor of California.

(Photo by Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images)

Music Composing

As a composer of music, Getty has created piano works, orchestral works, choral works, cantata, and opera, among other categories of classical music. His piano works include "Ancestor Suite," "Andantino," and "Scherzo Pensieroso," while his choral works include "Annabel Lee," "Beauty Come Dancing," "The Old Man in the Night," "Those Who Love," and "Victorian Scenes." Getty's operas include "Plump Jack," "Joan and the Bells," and "Usher House," the lattermost of which is based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." The staged world premiere of the opera was held in June of 2014 at the Welsh National Opera, and was later performed by the San Francisco Opera. In 2017, "Usher House" was paired with Getty's opera "The Canterville Ghost" at New York's Centre for Contemporary Opera. That opera is based on Oscar Wilde's short story of the same name.

Getty's career as a music composer is the subject of Peter Rosen's documentary film "Gordon Getty: There Will be Music," which premiered in early 2016 at Cinema Village in New York City. The film went on to play at various film festivals, and was shown on PBS in the United States and on ARTE in Europe.

Honors and Accolades

Getty has received some honors for his work as a classical music composer. In 1986, he won the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' award for Outstanding American Composer. Later, in 2003, Getty won the Gold Baton from the League of American Orchestras. In 2015, he was named Alumnus of the Year by his alma mater the University of San Francisco.


Since 2008, Getty has given over $200 million to his philanthropic foundation, which supports music, the performing arts, and museum projects. The foundation has underwritten productions of the San Francisco Opera and the Russian National Orchestra.

Personal Life

On Christmas Day in 1964, Getty married publisher Ann Gilbert in Las Vegas. The pair lived in a grand yellow Italianate mansion in San Francisco with panoramic views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. They gradually expanded their domestic space over the years by purchasing two adjacent houses. Getty and Gilbert frequently hosted charity events and fundraisers, as well as opera stars and politicians.

With his wife, Getty had four children, including businessman and filmmaker Andrew, who passed away in 2015 from meth intoxication, heart disease, and internal bleeding. In addition to his four children with Gilbert, Getty has three daughters from his former longtime mistress Cynthia Beck. In 2019, a house Beck owns in Bel-Air was raided by police, and her companion Girard Damien Saenz was arrested with over 1,000 firearms in his possession.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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