Person

Aileen Getty

Nationality:

American

Born:

1957

Occupation:

Philanthropist, Activist

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Aileen Getty is a philanthropist focused on supporting climate change activists who practice civic disruption. She is the granddaughter of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, who was described as the richest man in the world in the 1960s. 1

Getty’s philanthropy began with a focus on HIV/AIDS research and treatment and homelessness, later shifting towards environmentalism and climate change. She founded the Aileen Getty Foundation to support climate change causes, including the Climate Emergency Fund (CEF) which has provided grants to several liberal climate movements that leverage disruptive activism, including Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, 2 Climate Defiance, and the A22 Network. 3

Family and Early Life

Aileen Getty is a granddaughter of J. Paul Getty, founder of the Getty Oil Company, who was described as the richest man in the world in the 1960s. After his death, his five children each inherited a portion of his estate. In 1984, the family sold Getty Oil and had a recorded wealth of $5.4 billion. 4

Aileen Getty was the second child of J. Paul Getty, Jr. and sister of kidnapping victim J. Paul Getty III 5 and Getty Images founder Mark Getty. She grew up in Italy and attended a boarding school in England and later became involved in alcohol and drugs. 6

Marriages

Aileen Getty married actress Elizabeth Taylor’s son, Christopher Wilding, in 1981 and had 2 children. They divorced in 1987 after Getty, who had been diagnosed HIV-positive, admitted to an extramarital affair. 7 8

Getty married Scott Padilla, whom she met in 1990 at a recovery clinic, but the marriage ended shortly thereafter. She married Bartolomeo Ruspoli in 2004. 9

Philanthropy and Activism

Getty became involved in philanthropy after she was diagnosed with HIV. She focused on HIV/AIDS research and treatment, the homeless, the arts, and causes in Africa and the Middle East, then moved her focus to what she refers to as the “climate emergency.” In 2005 she founded Gettlove to house the homeless in Los Angeles. In 2021, Gettlove merged with The Center in Hollywood, 10 which “practices radical hospitality” for the homeless. 11

Getty is a trustee of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, which was co-founded by her former mother-in-law, Elizabeth Taylor. 12 She also served as an ambassador to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and as a board member of The Center in Hollywood. 13

Getty is the founder and president of the Aileen Getty Foundation which provides grants to left-of-center organizations, primarily focused on climate change, including the Climate Emergency Fund (CEF), the Good Food Institute, Regeneration, Third Act, and the Climate Reality Project. 14

In 2019, she was the founding donor of CEF, which has donated over $4 million as of November 2022 to liberal climate movements that leverage disruptive activism, including Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, 15 Climate Defiance, and the A22 Network. 16 CEF partners with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights to provide legal help for climate activists. 17

In November 2021, Getty co-authored with Rebecca Rockefeller Lambert, the co-founder of the Equation Campaign, an article for The Guardian stating that U.S. Congress must stop new oil projects. 18

In October 2022, activists from Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting to gain attention for the climate crisis. Getty wrote an article for The Guardian applauding this action and describing her support for climate activist organizations that engage in civil disobedience to fight for the end of oil and gas exploration. 19 Just Stop Oil is primarily funded by CEF and has continued its civil resistance demonstrations. 20 21

In August 2023, activists from the CEF-funded Extinction Rebellion blocked traffic to the Burning Man festival in Nevada, demanding a stop to private jets, single-use plastics, and unnecessary propane burning at the festival. 22

In September 2023, activists from Declare Emergency set up rush hour roadblocks in Washington D.C. to oppose the fossil fuel industry. Declare Emergency is part of the A22 Network which is funded by CEF. Declare Emergency refers to itself as America’s version of Extinction Rebellion. The A22 Network is a group of climate activists focused on “mass civil disobedience on a global scale.” 23

In June 2024, Just Stop Oil spray painted parts of Stonehenge with orange paint demanding the British government address climate change. They did this the day before thousands of visitors were expected to visit the site to celebrate the summer solstice. 24

Getty’s perspective on these disruptive actions is supportive: “If you accept that we are facing a widespread climate disaster, then civil disobedience does not seem so crazy and extreme.” 25

Political Donations

The Getty family has a long history with California Governor Gavin Newsom (D). Newsom’s father managed the Getty family trust. Eighteen Getty family members have donated to Newsom’s campaigns and included him in San Francisco’s wealthy social scene. As of September 2018, Aileen had donated a total of $92,400 to his campaigns. 26

Getty has continuously donated to the Jane Fonda Climate PAC, which endorses Democratic candidates at the state and federal level 27 and to Democratic candidates, including U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), former 2024 Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and President Joe Biden .28

References

  1. Raphaelle Besse Desmoulieres. “Aileen Getty: Billionaire proud to finance environmental activists’ dramatic actions.” Le Monde. November 3, 2022. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/environment/article/2022/11/03/aileen-getty-billionaire-proud-to-finance-environmental-activists-dramatic-actions_6002800_114.html
  2. Raphaelle Besse Desmoulieres. “Aileen Getty: Billionaire proud to finance environmental activists’ dramatic actions.” Le Monde. November 3, 2022. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/environment/article/2022/11/03/aileen-getty-billionaire-proud-to-finance-environmental-activists-dramatic-actions_6002800_114.html
  3. “Our Grantees.” Climate Emergency Fund – Grants. Accessed June 21, 2024. https://www.climateemergencyfund.org/ourgrantees
  4. Raphaelle Besse Desmoulieres. “Aileen Getty: Billionaire proud to finance environmental activists’ dramatic actions.” Le Monde. November 3, 2022. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/environment/article/2022/11/03/aileen-getty-billionaire-proud-to-finance-environmental-activists-dramatic-actions_6002800_114.html
  5. Weber, Bruce. “J. Paul Getty III, 54, Dies; Had Ear Cut off by Captors.” The New York Times, February 8, 2011. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/world/europe/08gettyobit.html.
  6. Raphaelle Besse Desmoulieres. “Aileen Getty: Billionaire proud to finance environmental activists’ dramatic actions.” Le Monde. November 3, 2022. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/environment/article/2022/11/03/aileen-getty-billionaire-proud-to-finance-environmental-activists-dramatic-actions_6002800_114.html
  7. [1] Raphaelle Besse Desmoulieres. “Aileen Getty: Billionaire proud to finance environmental activists’ dramatic actions.” Le Monde. November 3, 2022. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/environment/article/2022/11/03/aileen-getty-billionaire-proud-to-finance-environmental-activists-dramatic-actions_6002800_114.html
  8. Lewis, Judith. “Aileen Getty Comes Clean.” POZ, May 1, 1996. https://www.poz.com/article/Aileen-Getty-Comes-Clean-1789-4226.
  9.  Hale, Beth. “Why Is the Heiress to Getty Oil Billions Bankrolling Eco-Maniacs Hell-Bent on Disruption? Fossil Fuel Tycoon’s Granddaughter Is Prominent Backer of Green Zealots Causing Chaos on Roads and Defacing Priceless Artwork.” Daily Mail Online, October 23, 2022. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11346663/Fossil-fuel-tycoons-granddaughter-prominent-backer-green-zealots-causing-chaos-roads.html.
  10. “Aileen Getty.” The Aileen Getty Foundation – About Us. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://aileengettyfoundation.org/about-us/
  11. “About Us.” The Center. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://thecenterinhollywood.org/about-us/
  12. “Board of Trustees.” amfAR – About amfAR. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.amfar.org/about-amfar/board-of-trustees/
  13.  “Aileen Getty.” The Aileen Getty Foundation – About Us. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://aileengettyfoundation.org/about-us/
  14. “Climate.” The Aileen Getty Foundation. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://aileengettyfoundation.org/climate/
  15. Raphaelle Besse Desmoulieres. “Aileen Getty: Billionaire proud to finance environmental activists’ dramatic actions.” Le Monde. November 3, 2022. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/environment/article/2022/11/03/aileen-getty-billionaire-proud-to-finance-environmental-activists-dramatic-actions_6002800_114.html
  16. “Our Grantees.” Climate Emergency Fund – Grants. Accessed June 21, 2024. https://www.climateemergencyfund.org/ourgrantees
  17. Julian Wyllie. “Aileen Getty and Rory Kennedy Lead New Climate Fund to Support Activists and Protesters.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. July 12, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2024. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/aileen-getty-and-rory-kennedy-lead-new-climate-fund-to-support-activists-and-protesters/
  18. Aileen Getty and Rebecca Rockefeller Lambert. “Fossil fuels made our families rich. Now we want this industry to end.” The Guardian. November 6, 2021. Accessed June 21, 2024. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/nov/06/fossil-fuels-made-our-families-rich-now-we-want-this-industry-to-end
  19. Aileen Getty. “I fund climate activism – and I applaud the Van Gogh protest.” The Guardian. October 22, 2022. Accessed June 21, 2024. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/oct/22/just-stop-oil-van-gogh-national-gallery-aileen-getty
  20. Amrita Das. “Who owns Just Stop Oil? Getty oil irony sparks disbelief as Rokeby Venus vandalism triggers outrage.” SK POP. November 7, 2023. Accessed June 21, 2024. https://www.sportskeeda.com/pop-culture/news-who-owns-just-stop-oil-getty-oil-irony-sparks-disbelief-rokeby-venus-vandalism-triggers-outrage
  21. Mallory Moench. “Everything to Know About Climate Activist Group Just Stop Oil.” Time. November 11, 2023. Accessed June 21, 2024. https://time.com/6334072/just-stop-oil-climate-change-activist-group/
  22. Joshua Rhett Miller. “Hollywood stars bankroll anti-capitalist eco-warriors who blockaded Burning Man.” New York Post. August 28, 2023. Accessed June 21, 2024. https://nypost.com/2023/08/28/hollywood-stars-bankroll-eco-warriors-who-blockaded-burning-man/
  23.  Lewis Pennock. “Declare Emergency eco mob behind rush-hour roadblocks is funded by billionaire oil heiress Aileen Getty and Hollywood director Adam McKay.” Daily Mail. September 9, 2023. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12466961/Declare-Emergency-eco-mob-rush-hour-roadblocks-funded-billionaire-oil-heiress-Aileen-Getty-Hollywood-director-Adam-McKay.html
  24. Kelsey Ables. “Stonehenge spray-painted orange by protesters calling for climate action.” The Washington Post. June 20, 2024. Accessed June 21, 2024. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/06/20/stonehenge-protest-just-stop-oil/?utm_campaign=wp_the7&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_the7&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F3e0b19d%2F6674095eb501455696d1eaa3%2F63f149724faed618882b1391%2F43%2F85%2F6674095eb501455696d1eaa3
  25. Beth Hale. “Why is the heiress to Getty oil billions bankrolling eco-maniacs hell-bent on disruption? Fossil fuel tycoon’s granddaughter is prominent backer of green zealots causing chaos on roads and defacing priceless artwork?” Daily Mail. October 23, 2022. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11346663/Fossil-fuel-tycoons-granddaughter-prominent-backer-green-zealots-causing-chaos-roads.html
  26. Seema Mehta, Ryan Menzes, and Maloy Moore. “How eight elite San Francisco families funded Gavin Newsom’s political ascent.” LA Times. September 7, 2018. Accessed June 19, 2024. “Aileen Getty.” The Aileen Getty Foundation – About Us. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-pol-ca-gavin-newsom-san-francisco-money/
  27. Jane Fonda Climate PAC website. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://janepac.com/
  28. “Aileen Getty.” Open Secrets Donor Search. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.opensecrets.org/search?order=desc&q=aileen+getty&sort=D&type=donors
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