The upcoming film “All the Money in the World” has been garnering lots of buzz for the scandal around it. A month ago, the filmmakers decided to to erase star Kevin Spacey — now tainted by accusations of sexual misconduct — and replace him with Christopher Plummer. With the movie due to hit theaters Dec. 22, Plummer was still filming in Italy as recently as this past week.
But the scandal the movie is based on is just as shocking. In 1973, John Paul Getty III — the 16-year-old grandson of oil man J. Paul Getty, then said to be the world’s richest man, worth some $1.2 billion (around $9.1 billion today) — was kidnapped in Rome. His abductors demanded $17 million, which his family wouldn’t pay, leading his captors to cut off his right ear.
The ordeal, coupled with terrible neglect, ruined the boy’s life. At just 24, he ended up paralyzed as a result of a drug overdose.
As it turns out, all the money in the world could not save him.
Born in 1892 to Minnesotan parents in the petroleum business, J. Paul Getty turned mere wealth into billions by buying oil-rich land in the Middle East.
But “Old John,” as he came to be called, was a notorious tightwad. So much so that he kept a payphone at Sutton Place, his 75-acre estate in Surrey, England, so as not to get stuck paying for guests’ calls.
He was equally parsimonious about showing love to his family. “Raising kids . . . would have gotten in the way of his mistresses,” John Pearson, author of “Painfully Rich,” on which the movie is based, told The Post.
Old John had five wives and as many sons. He particularly disdained his third boy, John Paul Getty Jr., and viewed him as a dope-addled hippie. “John Paul [Jr.] was cultured,” said Pearson. “But he was a drug addict and a layabout.”
Old John did not meet his grandson, John Paul III — the oldest of four children that John Paul Jr. had with first wife Gail — until the boy was 11 years old. Improbably, the old man was charmed.
When they met again four years later, however, Old John was less impressed. It was 1971 and the 15-year-old boy, known as Paul, had evolved into a bellbottoms-wearing hippie. His father, John Paul Jr., had divorced Gail in 1966 and been living a bohemian existence with his new wife, model Talitha Pol. They bounced around Rome and Morocco, hung out with the Rolling Stones, and smoked opium.
By the age…