Danish-born celebrity Claus von Bülow, who was convicted but later acquitted of killing his wealthy wife in two lawsuits of international interest in the 1980s, has died. He was 92 years old.
Von Bülow, who moved to London after his release, died Saturday at his home, as his son-in-law Riccardo Pavoncelli told the New York Times.
The great aristocrat of Bülow was accused of bringing his wife, Martha "Sunny" von Bülow, in an irreversible coma to earn their fortune, so that he could live together with his lover, a black-haired soap opera actress. He was convicted in 1982 of attempted murder in a lawsuit in Newport, Rhode Island, which was widely persecuted.
The conviction was overturned on appeal and he was acquitted of his second murder trial in 1
The case split his family: Sunny's from Billow's two children from her first marriage with an Austrian prince accused her stepfather of attempted murder while the couple's daughter claimed that her father was innocent. This loyalty nearly cost her millions – she was barred from the testament of her wealthy grandmother for a few years because of her belief in her father's innocence.
In the first case, the jury confirmed the charge that Sunny was caused by Billow's coma due to insulin shots, but was not matched by her husband, Claus, but the second jury did not reach the same conclusion.
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Sunny von Bulow died in 2008, almost 28 years after she fell into a coma.
Claus von Bulow, who was portrayed by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons in a film about the attempted murder case, always upheld his innocence. He did not say in his criminal cases, but denied the wrongdoing owed by his stepchildren in a civil case.
He rarely talked about the case, in part because a possible financial settlement with his stepchildren required him to keep his mother.
"If I give an interview, it will be a $ 5 million interview," he told The Associated Press in 2012, referring to a fine he could count on if he had the matter Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who represented von Bülow and stayed in contact with him for decades, told the press that he had diligently avoided the limelight. After we won the case, he disappeared from the public domain. Unlike OJ Simpson, he accepted my advice, "Dershowitz said Thursday.
Before the settlement agreement silenced him, von Bulow described the case as a catastrophe for all involved." This was a tragedy, all of Aristotle's definitions for a tragedy, "he told a Harvard Law School member in 1986." Everyone is wounded, some are deadly. "
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When he was found not guilty in the second trial, von Bülow announced plans to leave the US for ever in Europe. He also expressed his interest in avoiding the public.
"I want to be forgotten and live peacefully," he said.
Dershowitz said he had led a "simple and modest life in a very small apartment". Enjoy the company of his daughter and grandchildren and visit the opera and the theater.
The process had shed light on the lives of the super-rich at a time when Ronald Reagan was president and television programs such as "Dallas" and "Dynasty" were extremely popular.
Bulows had a magnificent apartment in Fifth Avenue in New York City, along with Clarendon Court, her oceanfront villa in Newport, Rhode Island, which hosted the musical "High Society" of 1956. With Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby.
Sunny Von Bulow – who in her youth was similar to Kelly in the eyes of many friends – was the source of wealth, she was the heir to a considerable fortune, her mother's fortune was estimated at $ 100 million, and she was portrayed as an unhappy woman in court, though some friends including the writer Dominick Dunne, challenged this perception as inaccurate and unfair.
The prosecution said that Claus von Bülow had his wife twice Insulin injected to try to aggravate their hypoglycemia and kill them. They said he could not bear the financial consequences of a divorce that would cut him off from their millions.
The prosecutors said he had not come to her aid after she was affected, and refused to call a doctor, although the domestic help Maria Schrallhammer asked him to call for medical help. Her testimony of his cold-hearted behavior gave rise to the tabloid's famous headline: "Maid: Claus was a louse."
At the first trial, actress Alexandra Isles, known for her role in "Dark Shadows," admitted damned testimony had told von Bülow, she would end their love relationship, if he would not leave Sunny. This helped convince the jury that von Bülow had a motive for trying to kill his wife.
The 1982 guilty verdict in the first trial was reversed two years later by the Supreme Court of Rhode Island by a ruling that helped establish the national standing of Dershowitz, who led the successful appeal.
This led to a second trial in nearby Providence.
Dershowitz recalled that the call he made was the first time that an appeal was reported on television.
"It was the first truly respected case in the new era of broad media coverage," Dershowitz said. "It was in many ways a prelude to the OJ Simpson case, but it was a decade earlier."
Claus von Bülow appointed another legal team that could better challenge the medical testimony that linked Sunny's coma to insulin injections, and the acquittal marked the end of Billow's criminal discovery. This still made him vulnerable to a significant civil case of his stepchildren believing he was directly responsible for their mother's vegetative state. They sued him in July 1985, just one month after his acquittal, to $ 56 million.
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An agreement was reached years later in which von Bülow had agreed to drop all claims to his wife's assets to divorce her and not to discuss or profit from the case.
The divorce meant that he would no longer legally be responsible for Sunny Medical's care – which comforted his stepchildren.
In return, his daughter Cosima, who had been expelled from her grandmother's will because she was fighting over her father's side, had her lucrative position restored in the will. Von Bulow said at the time that he was satisfied with the result, because he had sought a financial parity for Cosima.
The next major development in the drama was the film "Reversal of Fortune," in which Irons won an Oscar for his movie devastating Bülow. Glenn Close played Sunny in the film, which depicts appellant Dershowitz (author of the book he was based on) in a heroic light.
Dershowitz said that Bülow liked the book, but he did not like the movie because it was an open question whether he was guilty or innocent while the book finally fell on Bülow's side.
Von Bülows was born in Copenhagen in 1926 as Claus Cecil Borberg. During the Second World War, after the occupation of Denmark by the Nazis, Claus was drawn to England and educated by his mother and his maternal grandfather, Frits Bulow, a former Minister of Justice in Denmark.
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Claus adopted the Bulow name and is said to have added the "from" as a young adult.
He graduated with a law degree from Trinity College, Cambridge and worked for some in the legal field years before becoming personal assistant to oil baron J. Paul Getty.