New Face on Climate Activism Scene is Multimillionaire Who Owns Several Mansions
One of the latest mega-donors to emerge in climate activism is the heir to an oil fortune who owns several massive properties and works with a consultant known for using philanthropy as a tool to burnish the images of celebrities.
Aileen Getty is the granddaughter of J. Paul Getty – the founder of Getty Oil who was one of the world’s richest men in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, it is believed the family’s net worth is $5 billion.
Now, Aileen Getty is channeling part of her family fortune into climate activism. She established the Aileen Getty Foundation which initially was focused on community issues like homelessness, urban spaces and HIV/AIDS research, but has since pivoted to the environment. “The Aileen Getty Foundation has shifted the bulk of our resources to organizations and individuals addressing the climate emergency,” the website says.
Getty has used the foundation to establish the Climate Emergency Fund in “an effort to support the activist voices demanding a more urgent response to the climate emergency.”
In turn, the Climate Emergency Fund has been one of the primary funders of Extinction Rebellion, a British-based environmental activist group that has used extreme disruptive tactics that have led to dozens of arrests and blocked traffic in New York and cities around the United Kingdom.
The Climate Emergency Fund has given $600,000 to the Extinction Rebellion and Getty’s website touts their work as “the only way to force a change is to disrupt the status quo through legal, non-violent direct action.”
Western Wire reported on the group’s Denver chapter after they participated in a “die-in” at a city council meeting and received the support of council member and self-described “anarchist” Candi CdeBaca.
Extinction Rebellion’s founders include an English activist named Gail Bradbrook whose inspiration for the group came after spending two weeks in Costa Rica taking psychedelic drugs. She partnered with Roger Hallam, who was a PhD student at King’s College in London, and according to Buzzfeed, has criticized environmental group Greenpeace and British newspaper The Guardian for being not being aggressive enough in protesting and covering climate issues.
The Climate Emergency Fund has also “partnered with the Robert F Kennedy Center to provide legal protection to the activists fighting to save our planet.”
Getty’s climate activism has come despite owning multiple properties that feature energy-intensive amenities. She bought a New York City townhouse for $19 million in 2017. It’s a five-story home that includes wood-burning fireplaces, heated flooring, wine storage, and a hot tub.
She also owns a six-bedroom, $12-million mansion in Malibu, Calif. that has a swimming pool, hot tub, fire pit, and a three-car garage.
A key advisor to Getty is Trevor Neilson, who is also a board member of the Climate Emergency Fund. Neilson was co-founder of the Global Philanthropy Group where he supported a strategy that charitable giving by his celebrity clients should be “acknowledged.” Covered by the New Yorker, the magazine said Neilson has been known to elevate his own status and his methods have attracted criticism from other philanthropic professionals.
Global Philanthropy Group charged clients up to $25,000 a month and Neilson lives in a wealthy California coastal town, according to the New Yorker.