John Paul Getty, the founder of the Getty Oil Company, may have been known during his life as a playboy but he was able to shrewdly invest and turn his relative low inheritance in a powerful oil empire. However the wealth he amassed during his life was not squandered, a large part of it being used to feed his passion for antiquities that he displayed for a long time in his home that eventually was opened once a week for visitors, like a museum. In order to have a better place to show his collection he decided to build a villa in the hills of Malibu that stands proof for a refined artistic sense and a love for sharing these cultural values that he collected with all others. The Getty Villa was built using the plans of a villa in Herculaneum covered by the Vesuvius’ eruption in 79AD. The villa’s excavation uncovered a large collection of burned papyrus that coined for it the name of “Villa de Papiri”. The meticulously detailed plans of this villa were implemented with all elements in the villa in Malibu hosting inside Getty’s large and growing collection of antiquity.
J P Getty died in London before being able to see the villa finished but his legacy remained, not only in the refined construction of the villa and its collection but through the Getty Center, an absolutely spectacular construction, the work of the architect Richard Meyer, a collection of pavilions covered in rough stones hosting superb permanent exhibits or modern works of art and photography, all around an exquisite complex of gardens and squares overlooking Los Angeles and the Pacific.
The traffic way bellow on the 12 lanes highway looks like from another world seen from the center’s lofty terraces.