J. Paul Getty died at one minute after midnight on Sunday, June 6, 1976. According to his long-time private secretary, Norris Bramlett, the billionaire slipped into a coma not long before his death. "He made no deathbed statement . . . there were no last words."

When Getty's will was opened in Los Angeles later that week, it stunned the art world. Contrary to what he had told the curators, Getty had left the vast bulk of his estate, worth nearly $700 million ($2.83 billion by today's standards) to the J. Paul Getty Museum Trust.

Getty had revised his will 21 times between the time that it was originally signed on September 22, 1958 and his death in 1976. Most of these revisions affected the amount of specific bequests that he left to friends and his personal staff. The 21st change or "codicil," made three months before his death, reaffirmed his enormous gift to the Trust.

 
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VIDEO—Stuart Peeler
Stuart Peeler discusses J. Paul Getty's will and Getty's reasons for keeping it secret.

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The Will