Andrew Getty, Heir to J. Paul Getty's Billion-Dollar Oil Dynasty, Died as Mysteriously as He Lived
"He had this hero thing going on so he was always trying to help people," a friend tells PEOPLE
To hear his friends tell it, Andrew Getty was a man with too much time on his hands. Born of billion-dollar privilege, he had grandiose dreams he never realized – he’d written hundreds of scripts that went nowhere – and whiled away his recent years holed up in his mansion, partying with a stream of troubled women he ostensibly hoped to help.
“He was addicted to train wrecks,” his longtime friend Noelle Leanne tells PEOPLE. “He had this hero thing going on so he was always trying to help people. He always had some starving ‘poor me’ girl staying with him.”
Los Angeles County Coroner’s assistant chief Ed Winter says Getty most likely died of natural causes due to “gastrointestinal bleeding” but is awaiting toxicology results.
“We found meds so we want to make sure he was within therapeutic levels,” he tells PEOPLE. Getty had told his assistant he was feeling ill several days earlier.
Friends say Getty didn’t like to be alone and was always surrounded by beautiful women who he dated or were friends. “I don’t think he could be alone for long,” says Leanne. “He was that type. He always had someone around him. I think he wanted to get married underneath it all but reality hit and there were so many girls he liked.
“He created his own world that was comfortable to him but he also attracted the wrong girls, too. I don’t think he was that good at getting rid of people because he was too nice.”
Getty’s body was discovered by his ex-girlfriend, Lanessa DeJonge, who had been ordered to stay away from Getty’s home. In a restraining order he filed two weeks before his death, Getty claimed DeJonge sprayed him with pepper spray after an argument, and had to be removed from his property “by the LAPD on numerous occasions.”
In the restraining order, Getty says he suffered from “a serious medical condition” and a rise in his high blood pressure could put him “in grave risk of substantial and irreparable injury or death.”
“She has exploited this information to demand money and property from me, refusing to leave my house,” he wrote. “Recently she was released from jail. She asked if she could stop by my house to pick up some belongings. She arrived and has since refused to leave.”
Getty’s friend Alisha Lucero says Getty had problems with other women in the past. One in particular broke into his house, she says: “The last time she took off running down the street naked. He had some weirdos that were attracted to him.”
The property certainly was alluring and featured a 10-foot tall prehistoric bird skeleton below a winding staircase, a life-size plush kangaroo by the front door, and a poolside cabana equipped with a pool table. The home boasted a secret tunnel that was built during prohibition days.
Scattered around his house were movie scripts he wrote, and movie props, clay animation figures he made. He kept a wall-to-wall DVD collection of porn and horror flicks. He also had a closet full of women’s clothing he liked his female guests to try on. “He liked to have women trying on clothing,” says a friend. “He wanted to see people in the outfits.”
Friends say Getty, whose cousin lost an ear in a kidnapping in Rome as a teenager, became increasingly cautious after some sketchy encounters over the years, arming his home with surveillance cameras and guns.
“He is the heir to a $2 billion dynasty and it has attracted people in the past that shouldn’t be around,” friend and former neighbor Elan Morrison tells PEOPLE. “There were crazy people showing up at his house. He had recollections of an assassination attempt on his family when he was a kid. His cousin was kidnapped. It went back very far.”
“He kept guns by his bed side,” says a close friend. “He had guns down on the floor by his night table and in his drawer. He wouldn t let people walk on that side of the bed because of the guns.”
Getty was a horror buff, and around 2002, wrote, directed and produced a slasher flick called Storyteller. The movie starred Fred Koehler, Sean Patrick Flanery, Michael Berryman and Dina Meyer.
“It was very sadistic,” Ryan Readenour tells PEOPLE. “The story is about this young kid who lived with his parents and was mentally handicapped in some ways and he had something telling him to start killing. Some of it is Nightmare on Elm Street caliber. One scene involves him drilling through Dina Meyer’s head.”
Readenour says the film was based on dreams Getty had as a young boy. “When he was young he would have these really powerful sick twisted dreams and so shocking to him that he didn’t think they came from him. He had this idea it was this story teller who was creating these crazy dreams of his and that was kind of the genius of the story.”
Getty put close to $6 million into the film but he ran out of money and the film was never released. “He needed financing,” says Readenour. “He ran out of cash. He bought millions of dollars worth of equipment instead of renting it. The people around him didn’t advise him in the right way. He wanted to do great things and he took huge risks but he failed.”