San Francisco

Longtime San Francisco Benefactor, Ann Getty, Dies at 79

She died of a heart attack, her husband Gordon Getty said

Ann Getty, designer and wife of Gordon Getty, sits in her San Francisco home in this 1977 photo.
Horst P. Horst/Conde Nast via Getty Images

Ann Getty, a longtime benefactor of the arts and culture in San Francisco, died Monday. She was 79.

She died of a heart attack, her husband, Gordon Getty, said.

A native of Wheatland, California, Ann Getty and her husband, an oil heir and billionaire philanthropist, were a regular presence of San Francisco’s upper-crust society events.

A designer and philanthropist, Ann Getty dedicated her life to the fields of anthropology, publishing, interior design, and early childhood development, the family said in a statement.

“Generosity, in friendship and philanthropy, was a hallmark of Mrs. Getty, who opened the family home to numerous fundraisers supporting a range of nonprofits,” they said.

Ann Getty founded a San Francisco preschool and helped raise funds for numerous nonprofits, including the University of California, San Francisco, the San Francisco Symphony, Benioff Children’s Hospitals, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the San Francisco Opera, the Leakey Foundation and the Napa Valley Festival.

"Ann Getty had a big heart and cared deeply for San Francisco and the people who live here. She was an incredible part of our City and her philanthropic giving inspired so many others to give," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed in a statement after the philanthropist's passing. "Just recently Ann and Gordon gave to Give2SF, which is supporting workers and families during our COVID pandemic, which just shows that any time San Francisco was in need, Ann would be there ready to help."

"But Ann wasn’t just a contributor to so many worthy causes -- she truly was part of the fabric of our community. I will miss her kind heart and generous spirit, and I’m sending my thoughts to her friends and family," Breed said.

“Though the Gettys traveled the world attending numerous music and arts festivals, Mrs. Getty was a great San Franciscan who treasured spending time with her extended family, whether attending opening night at the San Francisco Symphony or the San Francisco Giants season home opener at Oracle Park,” her family said.

Ann and Gordon Getty were also close to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Newsom’s late father William Newsom, became a close friend of Gordon Getty after the two attended the same San Francisco high school. The son of oil magnate J. Paul Getty, Gordon Getty helped finance Gavin Newsom’s first wine shop in 1992, which later grew into a successful business line.

J. Paul Getty was at one time the world’s richest man. In 1973, his eldest grandson, Jean Paul III was kidnapped by Italian gangsters and held for $3.2 million ransom. The family paid after the boy’s severed ear was sent to an Italian newspaper.

The elder Newsom managed Gordon Getty’s family trust, and helped deliver the ransom money after the kidnapping.

Ann Getty is survived by her husband, their sons, Peter, John, and William Getty; grandchildren Ivy Getty; Nicholas, Alexander, and Veronica Getty; and Ava and Dexter Getty.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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