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Stonehage’s family office head leaves to join Getty family office subsidiary

Roelof Botha has chosen to swap his role as UK head of family offices at wealth adviser Stonehage Fleming for a greater challenge as client advice director at Sutton Place UK, part of a Getty family office.

Botha, not to be confused with his illustrious namesake at Sequoia Capital, left Deutsche Bank to join Stonehage in 2012, where he advised entrepreneurs and their families on a range of issues. He rejected the misconception that a family office is a private investment business managing a few bits on the side: “We assist families in managing proactively the risks they will face down the line.”  In a statement, Stonehage said: “We thank Roelof for his great contribution over the last ten years and wish him all the best for the future.”

Sutton Place UK is owned by Sutton Place of Nevada, whose members include Mark Getty. They share their name with a Tudor mansion near Guildford (pictured above) acquired by billionaire J. Paul Getty in 1959, enriched by a series of oil strikes on US land prospects acquired by his father. J. Paul’s shrewd investments in the great depression financed a series of acquisitions and led to the creation of Getty Oil, further expanded by oil leasing agreements with the Saudi royal family.

Frugal, notoriously so when dealing with kidnappers of his grandson, J. Paul was an avid collector of art and antiquities. The Getty Foundation is still a generous benefactor to the arts. He married and divorced five times, raising five sons with four of his wives, who have produced nearly forty descendants. At one point, in 1966, J. Paul was said to be the richest man in the world, worth $1.2 billion, equivalent to a lot more today, significantly more if you take account of the rising price of oil. His descendants are reportedly worth $6 billion.   

Getty died in 1976 and most of his business interests were unwound. His fourth son, Gordon Getty, a successful venture capitalist, took charge of affairs and sold Getty Oil in 1984. The remaining gas filling stations were sold to Lukoil in 2000.  J. Paul’s Tudor mansion Sutton Place was bought by US industrialist Frederick Koch in 1986, then acquired by Alisher Usmanov, the sanctioned Russian billionaire.

Sutton Place UK advises members of the Getty family and Louise Creasey served as its managing director for 17 years, advising members of the family on tax, commercial and legacy issues.  Creasey is still a director of the Tara Getty Foundation and Ocean Family Foundation, where Jessica Getty is a trustee. But she left Sutton Park in June 2021, to become co-founder of an independent consultant, Adira Family Office Advisers

The Getty family’s biggest deal, right now, is the proposed $4.8 billion merger of Getty Images with a listed SPAC backed by CC Capital and Neuberger Berman. The proposed deal, announced in December 2021, involved the purchase of Images for the equivalent of 15.2 times operating earnings. The SPAC is led by Chinh Chu, former Blackstone managing director. 

Images chairman and co-founder Mark Getty, grandson of J. Paul Getty, bought the business back in 2018 from private equity firm Carlyle, in partnership with Koch Equity Development. 

Patrick Maxwell, another co-founder, has worked with Mark Getty for years and serves on the Images board, as well as Sutton Park. The two have worked on a series of ventures involving travel, sports data, music and commercial intelligence, as well as Getty Images, which has expanded through a series of acquisitions. Maxwell also helps to look after Getty’s 2,700-acre Wormsley Estate, Buckinghamshire, where Louise Creasey has been a director in the past.

Getty Images plans to use capital raised by the SPAC deal to reduce debt in the business run up by Carlyle and use the company’s dominant position as a supplier of images to clients, to develop new products and services. Whether the deal will survive the market set back in its current form remains to be seen but the SPAC price is holding firm.

Mark Getty is a manager of Sutton Place UK’s Nevada-based parent Sutton Place; Aileen, Alexander and Christina Getty, plus Vanessa Waibel, represent another branch of the family. Many family members will have other advisers. 

Putting aside personal tragedies, most recently the death of grandson John Gilbert Getty from an accidental drug overdose in 2020, family members continue to plough their furrows in a range of pursuits including venture capital, acting, music, fashion, social media and Los Angeles high society, which would never be the same without them. 

 

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