Reviews call this book a compelling account os a miserable yet fascinating man who became the richest man in the world, who ever paid $500 or less in taxes, and left behind a reputation as the savviest, most compelling, and contradictory business genius ever. But he wasn't all business.You'll also read about his marrying 3 teenage girls within 5 years, marrying twice more, without divorcing one wife first, and surrounded himself with beauties constantly. How did he have time for all that, especially when you find that he had a romance going with Hitler -- so dangerous that the State Department took away his passport!
Anna L. (annalovesbooks) reviewed The Great Getty: The Life and Loves of J. Paul Getty -- Richest Man in the World on
ISBN 0451146999 - "People hate rich people." On the final page of the text of the book (which is followed by over 50 pages of appendices), Lenzner quotes a Getty spouse with that statement. Perhaps it's true - it certainly seems Lenzner himself has an issue with at least one rich person: J. Paul Getty. Getty may have been every bit as terrible a person as he is painted in this book, but there is something not quite impersonal in the writing, as if Getty had somehow offended Lenzner and it seeped into the writing. In fact, Robert Lenzner was once an investment banker for Goldman, Sachs. Goldman, Sachs becomes part of the Getty story in 1983, when they were approached to find a "white knight" during the power struggle between Gordon Getty and the board of Getty Oil. Perhaps there's a connection there - it wouldn't be surprising, because the book takes a definite turn after Getty's death. For 290 pages, the book is about J. Paul Getty. It draws a portrait of a mean, selfish, self-centered, sex-obsessed, womanizing bigamist who clings to pennies while rolling in dough. Suddenly, the old man is dead and over the next 23 pages, we read how much better are the sons. I come to the conclusion that Lenzner possibly met the younger Gettys, heard tales of the terrible man who gave them life - and millions upon millions of dollars - and wrote a book that told their tale. Without that personal connection, if it doesn't exist, I have a hard time understanding the tone of the book.
J. Paul Getty, born to a loving but not affectionate set of parents, has the luck - good or bad - to have George Getty as his father. And George has the luck to wander into the oilfields when his son is eight years old and when oil is a young business. The stage is set for J. Paul, who will eventually become the richest man in the world. Of course, to get there, he has to get through his father. When his father dies, he's got to get through his mother. The way he deals with his mother is heartlessly business-like but Mother Getty is no fool and fights back as meanly as her son fights her. While he works on that, he seems to work at little else but women.
Getty's marriages overlap, some of his children are questionably legitimate and his empire grows. When he finally has control of the business his father began, he is obsessive about every last detail and dime. His business obsession leaves little room for caring about his children, who are portrayed as unloved and necessary, but not particularly wanted, heirs. Through it all runs the only story that would matter to Getty - business. It seems there's not a trick in the book that Getty wouldn't try to gain control, power and money, and to keep it. When his grandson is kidnapped, Getty's response is to cling to his money and refuse to pay the ransom. He doesn't give in when the kidnappers threaten to dice the boy up and send him home in pieces, either. Until they actually send home a piece of him, Grandpa Getty tries pretty much anything to keep as much money as possible rather than pay up and secure his safety.
In the end, I don't think I know any more about the man than I did before. Ann Getty, wife of Gordon, is pronounced the best Getty ever - and that she was Lenzner's connection to the family is noted in the preface. It hardly gives the author credibility. If there's another book about Getty that you can get your hands on, you might try that one. This one feels too mean-spirited to be accurate. The only nice thing Lenzner's got to say about the man is the title - unless you count the references to his skills as a lover, it's all downhill from there.
This is the riveting, uncensored bestselling biography of J. Paul Getty. The billions he made and how he made them. His voracious sexual appetite and the power that won him more women then most men dream of.