TITLE: Chairperson and President
FUNDING AREAS: Anthropology, sociology, education, museums, performing arts, music, orchestra
CONTACT: (415) 352-4410
IP TAKE: Although the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation once spread its wealth around to a variety of local and global causes, the couple is returning to their artistic roots as they age. The Gettys tend to favor well-established arts institutions in the Bay Area, but smaller groups with music programs have a good chance as well.
PROFILE: At one point of another, many of us choose a life path out of obligation to our families. But when your last name is Getty, that obligation is even more intense. Gordon Getty is the son of oil tycoon Paul Getty, and he's the namesake of the Getty Oil fortune. Although he was one of five children, he was expected to take over the family business and did so for a short time to please his father. But in the mid-1980s, obligation was tossed out the window and the prodigal son sold the family business to Texaco for $10 billion. I suppose you can do whatever you like when you're named the richest person in America (Forbes Magazine, 1983).
Getty has always been more interested in art and music than oil and big business. After selling Getty Oil, he and his wife, Ann, started their own philanthropic foundation to boost the arts in the Bay Area. Getty is an avid opera singer, and he's even composed several of his own choral works, piano pieces, and operas. He got his official training at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Not surprisingly, lots of Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation funds find their way to local operas and music groups.
However, Getty is a multi-faceted individual and his passions run far deeper than his rhythms and melodies. And he hasn't abandoned his business background entirely, investing in mutual funds and firms like Forward Management and ReFlow Management. These earnings have helped him finance several restaurants, hotel resorts, retail clothing stores, and a winery in Napa Valley. Although he officially claims to be a Republican, he's donated to a good number of Democratic candidates like John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi. In April 2013, he even hosted a dinner in his home featuring President Barack Obama.
As a man with a net worth of over $2 billion, Getty operates most of the philanthropic contributions personally with his wife. He prefers to award continual grants to organizations close to his hear. For example, Getty's foundation regularly awards rounds of $10,000 to $40,000 grants to orchestras through the League of American Orchestras, totaling around $1.5 million over three years.
In the mid-2000s, Getty diversified his giving portfolio a little bit more, spreading the love around to local educational institutions and overseas causes. But these days, it seems that Getty is staying more true to his artistic roots. Almost all funding in 2011 and 2012 went towards arts and culture programs in the Bay Area.
Unfortunately for grantseekers, Getty doesn't like to make himself available for questions or program pitches. To get in touch, put in a phone call to the foundation to introduce yourself. To learn more about Gordon Getty's music, check out his composer website.