It is referred to be in good business at the right time. We are in 1918. Californian Paul Getty, a young Oxford graduate, works for four years in the industry of oil with the help of his father. He has twenty-five years. The war has ended. The price of oil increases dramatically and Henry Ford automobiles will ensure an increasing demand for what it will soon call black gold. Affairs will multiply to the point that a few years later, junior Getty is able to build a house in Santa Monica. The fate is that his neighbour William Randolph Hearst, press magnate made legendary by Orson Welles as Citizen Kane. What shock! His contact, it will learn at least something important. The businessman spent to acquire an incredible variety of objects to respond to his good pleasure to decorate his property. The seed is sown. Getty will be able to emulate in his future collector grandiose visions. In 1957, Getty is considered by the magazine "Fortune" as the richest American in the world. His fortune is estimated between 700 million and $ 1 billion. Five marriages, five divorces. A hotel by hotel life and a residence of 72 parts in the English countryside. Rich, Yes, but Tightwad. He is proud to tell that in his house he installed a public telephone for use by the people of passage. Getty became an American legend. But it is art that will allow his name to remain in the history.
There of course the business sense in all areas. If the 1930s are a terrible period for the mortals, for him, it is a bargain. It is yet enriched with oil. He also began to buy in the art at a period where the market is impaired. He is able to adopt objects that previously were for him out of reach. Thus he discovers one of his relations, in a New York apartment, the finesse of French furniture of the 18th century. Previously he considered as utility. Suddenly, he starts to buy parts among the most remarkable. In 1938, for example, auction of the estate of banker English he chose an Office in the cabinetmaker Molitor cylinder and a carpet of the SOAP which had been in the collections of Louis XIV. His official argument: "the exceptional pieces of furniture are as important as the large former tables."The same year, he bought a rare Persian carpets of 1540. There again he knows that he has made a good case for a piece of this importance.
Because Getty is a specialist of the carpet. He professes: "You can tell whether a man is rich or not by looking at which landed on its soil."1939 is the year where he visited the Vatican Museum. The story tells that it is would be at length arrested before a Roman bust. Represented character looks like in a baffling manner to one of his rivals in the oil industry. Subsequently, the California tycoon began passion for ancient statuary, which he surpasses the Renaissance sculpture. But it shows less assured in modern painting. In 1934, he chooses, ten canvases - of funny scenes from sea of the Spanish Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida that it pays very little expensive and at the same time regret not to be interested earlier to the Impressionists. The level is in no way comparable to that of its antiquities or furniture, of the sets he diligently continues to expand. Getty has a relationship of addiction to the collection. They may announce that it stops any acquisition, but a few months later buys a chest of drawers of Cressent or Bernard Van Risenburgh Office. 1954: the businessman donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of the famous rug Persian and a Rembrandt purchased for a small price.
He becomes aware of the impact of the action. It has a collection of fairly significant to open a place in his name. And then he met the great old masters specialist, Bernard Berenson, who encouraged him to buy important paintings by master. Santa Monica, a ranch previously used for family weekend will be transformed into a private museum visited by appointment. Steps from budget, a policy of discretion... Low profile for the Getty Museum until 1968. Paul was then seventy-five years and announces that it will build a true Museum. His project: a Roman villa which was modelled after Herculaneum. It opened in 1974 and cost $ 18 million to billionaire known for his lack of generosity. It also includes 40 million endowments and 2 million operating budget. In June 1976, just before his death, Paul Getty asked one of his conservatives to show him the favourite reproductions of his works and read the comments of the catalogue of the collection. No doubt about the fact that the entire amassed was one of the great pleasures of life. The evidence: the surprise his will provides that 4 million shares of Getty Oil then corresponding to 700 million dollars are earmarked for the Museum. A credit that has considerably enlarged the early years of the legacy. The Getty becomes the richest Museum in the world and, in 1997, opened a second establishment best suited to present significantly enriched collections since the death of its owner. The Getty Center designed by American architect Richard Meir will be a site to EUR 1 billion. Today, this vast complex dedicated to the art and the Getty villa in Malibu are symbolically the prestigious mausoleums of a businessman who had, no doubt, the meaning of posterity.