Jean Paul Getty III, a grandson of oil mogul J. Paul Getty, was kidnapped in Rome in 1973. The abductors demanded $17 million in order for the boy to return safe and sound. As the 16-year-old boy was rather rebellious, it was suspected that the whole story was merely a plot to get money from his stingy grandfather, so the family denied to pay ransom. About four months after the kidnappers had made their demands, an envelope containing a strand of hair and a human ear was received by mail. Ten days later abductors threatened that Paul would be further harmed and arrive bit by bit unless they were paid $3 million. Getty senior eventually assented to paying $2.2 million which was the maximum tax deductable sum and he lent his son, the kidnapped boy’s father, the rest of the money at 4% interest. Jean Paul Getty III was released soon after the ransom was paid but when he called his grandfather to thank him for the money Getty senior refused to speak with him. Because of the trauma experienced during his abduction, the boy later developed a drug addiction and suffered a stroke after an overdose which left him almost blind and partially paralyzed. He died in 2011 at the age of 54.
Getty senior explained his refusal to submit to abductors demands with the fact that, first of all, it would endanger his other grandchildren by turning them into a target for other kidnappers and, secondly, that he didn’t want to participate in the spread of lawlessness and violence.