Claus von Bulow, a socialite born in Denmark, has died at 92 in London. He was cast into a real life true crime story in 1980 while married to heiress Martha “Sunny” von Bulow, who was found comatose on her bathroom floor at her estate in Newport, R.I.
Town & Country reports that Sunny von Bulow remained in a coma for the rest of her life, but her two older children Prince Alexander von Auersperg and Ala Isham, (née Princess Annie-Laurie von Auersperg), from her first marriage to Austria’s Prince Alfred von Auersperg were suspicious of Claus von Bulow’s possible role in her tragedy, leading to charges of attempted murder.
The story of their marriage and her eventually fatal ending was one of the first celebrity crime stories covered for years in the media and eventually made into a film, Reversal of Fortune, starring Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close, based on a book by the same name written by Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz (who served as von Bulow’s lawyer).
In his 1981 trial, the cast of characters which testified included Sunny’s maid, who knew more about her employers’ daily lives than anyone else, Claus’ mistress, Alexandra Isles, and Sunny von Bulow’s three children, including their mutual daughter, Cosima von Bulow.
Von Bulow's two murder trials were turned into the 1992 movie "Reversal Of Fortune," which won Jeremy Irons the Best Actor Oscar. https://t.co/ZoQtZkVNnh
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) May 30, 2019
Town & Country says that in his first trial, von Bulow was found guilty and sentenced to what would have amounted to a life sentence.
“It emerged that Sunny had also briefly fallen into a coma in 1979, and prosecutors successfully argued that von Bülow had poisoned his wife on both occasions with insulin injections.”
The judgment was overturned on appeal with the children of Sunny von Bulow taking different sides, with only Cosima siding with her father. In the second trial, Dershowitz represented the defendant von Bulow, which lead to the book and movie, Reversal of Fortune, putting both men in the spotlight.
Claus von Bulow settled with his stepchildren in exchange for Cosima being restored to her mother and maternal grandmother’s wills. A family friend said that Cosima never doubted her father.
“The affection and support Cosima felt for her father was unwavering. He raised a marvelous woman, full of integrity, loyal but with her eyes open, who unwaveringly thought the world of him.”
Claus von Bulow lived the rest of his life as a figure who divided any room in polite society and was known for his dark sense of humor. He lived his last years out in London, walking distance from Harrods, but kept mostly to himself as a result of illness.