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Gettys greasing Irish industry

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Dublin is becoming the Gettys-burg address, with three of the 16 grandchildren of John Paul Getty — once the richest man in the world — buying Irish passports and homes in the city.

Getty made his fortune by consolidating much of the U.S. oil industry under his control and was feted as the world’s wealthiest man when he died in 1976.

While he left the bulk of his fortune to the museum and art gallery he established in Malibu, Calif., in 1953, the rest of his fortune was distributed among his heirs from five marriages.

Three of those heirs have each paid about £1 million to get Irish naturalization, which automatically allows them residency and free movement throughout the EU. The latest to buy a passport is Tara Getty, who was naturalized on July 28. As part of his passport-purchase conditions, he bought a home at Castlecourt, Old Butterfield Avenue, Rathfarnham.

Two other members of the Getty dynasty bought Irish passports in 1995. Mark Harris Getty and Christopher Ronald Getty have bought homes in the Ballsbridge and Dalkey areas of Dublin.

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All are thought to live mainly in Britain.

Christopher Getty is a merchant banker. Mark is a former investment banker and founder of Getty Communications, which has offices in 11 countries and offers archival photos and film. Both are involved in Getty Investment Holdings.

In addition to buying houses and apartments in Dublin and satisfying residency requirements by living in their new homes for minimum periods, the millionaires moving to Ireland also have to invest a minimum of £1 million in job-creating industry.

The Department of Justice refuses to provide details of the investments on the basis that it is personal information. They also refused to say if there were any more Gettys seeking citizenship.

Tara Getty will be one of the last millionaires to be able buy a passport. He was part of a backlog of applicants when Minister John O’Donoghue decided to scrap the controversial plan.

The Gettys are the latest in a line of wealthy American heirs who have bought Irish citizenship, largely for tax reasons.

The richest man in Ireland, with an estimated fortune of about £1.5 billion, is John Dorrance, 54, who bought a passport in 1994. His grandfather invented the process for condensing soup that led to the Campbell empire.

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