J Paul Getty granted British citizenship

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J Paul Getty II, the billionaire philanthropist, has been granted British citizenship after living in the United Kingdom for 25 years, Home Office sources confirmed yesterday.

The reclusive son of the late John Paul Getty, once the world's richest man, was understood to have immediately revoked his American citizenship in a move which could save him a fortune. American citizens pay tax whether they are resident in the United States or not.

The decision was taken by the Home Office shortly before Christmas and came as the Government announced it would re-examine an application for citizenship from Mohamed Al-Fayed, the owner of Harrods.

Mr Getty, 65, has lived in Britain since 1972 when he moved from Italy following the drugs-related death of his second wife, Talitha Pol.

At the time, his own health was under threat from the drugs which were part of his lifestyle. His father had removed him from his post in one of the family businesses, and he survived instead on the income from his grandmother's trust. This was later boosted by $750m (pounds 470m) from another family trust.

Eventually, a meeting with a Jesuit chaplain turned Mr Getty to the church and away from drugs. And he began the series of generous acts of philanthropy which have made him probably Britain's single biggest charitable donor.

He saved thousands of old films from destruction with a pounds 20m donation to the British Film Institute and gave pounds 50m to the National Gallery.

He has helped save several rare works of art, including The Three Graces, from going abroad including to his own father's museum in California.

With an estimated personal fortune of pounds 1bn, he is thought to have distributed at least pounds 120m to British causes and was awarded an honorary KBE for his efforts.

He became increasingly Anglophile - "watching cricket" is one of his main recreations - and three years ago married Victoria Holdsworth, a former model and long-time friend, who is credited with his gradual re- emergence into public life.

He retains a flat by London's Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly, but spends most of his time at his 2,500-acre country estate in Buckinghamshire.y