Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke October 20, 2022

No, thousands of kids aren’t in cages under the Getty

If Your Time is short

  • There’s no evidence to support this claim.

Art in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles spans two campuses, the Getty Center and the Getty Villa Museum. Neither location has been ensnared in a huge human trafficking scandal, but a recent social media post suggests otherwise. 

"Underneath the Getty Museum is a network of tunnels and underground bunkers according to former CIA/NSA contractor Steven D. Kelley," the post says. "Child trafficking hub. 100,000 kids in cages." 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department told PolitiFact that it didn’t have any information about the claims in the post. 

Featured Fact-check

Lisa Lapin, a spokesperson for the J. Paul Getty Trust, which runs the museum, told us "these reports are all fake and false." 

Searching online we found no credible news reports or other sources to corroborate the claim that a staggering number of children — more than double the number of students enrolled at the nearby UCLA — were being kept in underground cages beneath a public perusing artwork. 

The post echoes others we’ve checked concerning underground tunnels and child sex trafficking. We’ve debunked claims that the military rescued "tortured children from the tunnel beneath Capitol Hill," that Russian President Vladimir Putin released 35,000 children from tunnels and subways in Ukraine, and that authorities seized upon the home of media mogul Oprah Winfrey — a regular target of this variety of misinformation — and "they are excavating the property and digging up the tunnels."

There was no evidence to support those claims, and there’s none for this post either. We rate it Pants on Fire!


Our Sources

Instagram post, Oct. 18, 2022

UCLA, Facts & Figures, visited Oct. 19, 2022

Getty Museum website, visited Oct. 19, 2022

Statement from the Los Angeles Police Department, Oct. 19, 2022

Email interview with Lisa Lapin, communications vice president, J. Paul Getty Trust, Oct. 19, 2022


Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

No, thousands of kids aren’t in cages under the Getty

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up