The 1973 kidnapping of Paul Getty—the 16-year-old grandson of the one-time richest man in the world—is the subject of Trust, which the Getty family’s lawyer calls “cruel and mean-spirited.”
Written By | Julie Miller
It has been 45 years since Paul Getty—the 16-year-old grandson of J. Paul Getty, the richest man in the world at the time—was kidnapped in Rome. Yet the crime is still a source of controversy, as evidenced when Paul Getty’s surviving sister, Ariadne Getty, threatened to sue FX over Danny Boyle’s Trust. The drama, which premieres on FX this Sunday, portrays the teenager as being complicit in the kidnapping—helping to stage the crime in an attempt to extract money, in the form of ransom, from his famously stingy grandfather.
“It is ironic that you have titled your television series Trust,” wrote Getty’s lawyer, Marty Singer, in a sternly worded letter that threatens legal action. “More fitting titles would be Lies or Mistrust, since the defamatory story it tells about the Gettys’ colluding in the kidnapping is false and misleading, and viewers rightly ought to mistrust it.”
Singer further called the 10-part series, which stars Donald Sutherland as the miserly J. Paul Getty, “a cruel and mean-spirited defamatory depiction” of the family. He pointed out that Ariadne was not consulted on the series, and requested all of Trust’s episodes for review.
In a new interview, Sutherland confirmed Trust’s perspective on the kidnapping, telling Page Six Monday that the series follows “this one grandson who, with two girlfriends, actually set up his own kidnapping. He then disappeared but, forgetting he’s kidnapped, kept showing up places. Things next went wrong.”
Trust will mark the second project about the tragic 1973 kidnapping to hit screens in a four-month span. This past December, Ridley Scott debuted his own dramatization of the events, All the Money in the World—one that follows a narrative in which Paul Getty really is kidnapped by ransom-seeking Italian gangsters. Though his film was not publicly contested by the Getty family, it had its own fair share of behind-the-scenes drama—including Kevin Spacey’s last-minute re-casting, and the appalling pay discrepancy between co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams, which made international headlines.
This past December, Ariadne Getty also took some issue with the film, saying that her grandfather did not really resemble the stingy character depicted in All the Money in the World.
“I think it’s a film that painted our family as only obsessed with wealth,” Getty told Town & Country. “We weren’t raised that way . . . My grandfather did not raise me that way at all. And besides being my grandfather, he was also my godfather, so I spent a lot of time with him . . . Business is always business, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a soft, kind, philanthropic, loving person behind it.”