Getty Lawyer Accuses FX’s ‘Trust’ of ‘Cruel and Mean-Spirited’ Defamation

“More fitting titles would be ‘Lies’ or ‘Mistrust,'” Marty Singer says about series dramatizing kidnapping of John Paul Getty III

Oliver Upton/FX

Ariadne Getty says FX has defamed her family by depicting her brother, J. Paul Getty III, as complicit in his own kidnapping in the network’s upcoming drama series “Trust.”

The letter, dated March 15 and signed by Getty’s attorney Marty Singer, calls the show a “wildly sensationalized false portrayal of the Getty family” for the way it depicts the 1973 kidnapping of her brother, J. Paul Getty III.

“It is ironic that you have titled your television series ‘Trust’,” the letter read. “More fitting titles would be ‘Lies’ or ‘Mistrust,’ since the defamatory story it tells about the Gettys colluding in the kidnapping is false and misleading, and viewers rightly ought to mistrust it.”

The Danny Boyle series stars Donald Sutherland as J. Paul Getty Sr., the oil tycoon whose grandson was kidnapped by the Italian mafia and held for ransom. Harris Dickinson, Hilary Swank, Michael Esper and Brendan Fraser also star. In January, executive producer Simon Beaufoy said he believed that the younger Getty had “actually kidnapped himself,” and that interpretation of events is featured in the series

Singer asserted that the series “[makes] it appear” as though Getty family members were complicit in the crime, which resulted in the younger Getty’s ear being removed and sent to a newspaper as a threat. He argued that even if the series doesn’t make the accusation explicit, “legal exposure … nevertheless arises from its defamatory implications.”

“You have falsified the dreadful story of Ariadne’s brother’s kidnapping to turn it into a cruel and mean-spirited defamatory depiction of the Getty family, maliciously and recklessly portraying them as greedily cooperating in and/or facilitating a kidnapping that left a family member mutilated,” Singer wrote. “‘Trust’ makes it appear as if the Getty family malevolently went along with and/or were part of a kidnapping scheme that resulted in the terrifying ordeal and the disfigurement of my client’s teenage brother. As such, ‘Trust defames the Gettys (including our client) and portrays them in an outrageous false light. This is unconscionable.”

The letter goes on to demand that FX make all 10 episodes of the series available for review, “since nobody bothered to seek [Getty’s] consent or input before proceeding to concoct it.”

FX did not return TheWrap’s request for comment.

Ariadne Getty Ltr by Sharon Waxman on Scribd

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.