San Francisco philanthropist Ann Getty dies at age 79

Ann Getty, a longtime benefactor of the arts and culture in San Francisco who married into the storied Getty family, 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 Gordon Getty, an oil heir and billionaire philanthropist, were a regular presence of San Francisco’s upper-crust society events.

The designer and philanthropist 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,” the family said.

Ann and Gordon Getty were also close to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, helping to pay for his outings as a youngster and later became regular donors to his political campaigns.

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 billionaire 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.

Besides running a design business, 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.

“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.

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.