New York socialite Claus Von Bulow who was famously convicted then cleared of trying to murder his heiress wife by insulin overdose in two controversial 1980s TV trials, has died aged 92
Claus von Bulow, a big name on the New York social circuit, who was twice convicted and twice acquitted of trying to murder his then-wife in 1980, has died.
His son-in-law, Riccardo Pavoncelli, confirmed his death at 92 on Thursday, but did not give a cause for the passing at his home on Saturday.
Mr von Bülow is survived by his daughter with ex-wife Martha von Bülow, Cosima von Bülow Pavoncelli, and his three grandchildren. He remained a regular at theater openings and fashionable names – such as Caroline and Reinaldo Herrera – invited him to parties to create atmosphere even into his old age.
The Danish aristocrat Claus von Bulow – who made his name working for J. Paul Getty – was found guilty of attempted murder in a 1982 trial and again in a 1985 trial that was televised.
He was accused of using insulin injections to try to kill the heiress to get his hands on her Pittsburgh utilities magnate father George Crawford‘s fortune.
The first time, Mrs von Bulow – nicknamed Sunny – was found unresponsive in one of the 8.5 bathrooms at their Rhode Island home, seated atop the toilet with a syringe discarded nearby.
His wife – who had married Prince Alfred von Auersperg of Austria in 1966 but later divorced him – was in a coma shortly. But after a second insulin overdose she never recovered from a brain trauma.
Mrs Bulow was in a coma for 28 years before she died in 2008.
Mrs Bulow had made her husband the main beneficiary of her estimated $40million fortune, but she soon developed an alcohol and drug habit after moving in to the home.
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In a sensational trial, her suave husband was accused of trying to murder her – being first found guilty, then dramatically (and controversially) cleared.
It was one of two alleged murder attempts by her husband, in a scandal that shook both the American and British aristocracy to the core.
When Mrs Bulow‘s body was found, her children from a previous marriage hired private investigators to find out if Mr Bulow was behind it.
He was charged in 1982, but released on $1million bail – gallivanting around with much younger and less respectful women.
Mr Bulow, who maintained an icy composure during his trial, was found guilty in 1982 and sentenced to 30 years in jail.
Just three years later, the verdict was thrown out and a retrial took place.
Mr Bulow hired celebrity attorney Alan Dershowitz, who would later defend O.J. Simpson, to get his conviction overturned.
Celebrities took the stand to speak in Mr Bulow‘s defense and a publicity parade ensued.
After being freed, Mrs Bulow‘s children had Mr Bulow removed from their mother‘s will and left him without a penny. Only the couple‘s biological daughter, Cosima, stood by him and he denounced any entitlements in favor of her being able to equally share assets with her half siblings.
The couple were divorced in 1988. Their Manhattan apartment and Newport mansion were turned over to the von Auersperg children from her previous marriage.
Attorney Dershowitz went on to write a book about the fascinating time which was turned into 1990 film Reversal Of Fortune, starring Jeremy Irons as Mr Bulow and Glenn Close as his wife.