Claus von Bülow, socialite cleared of wifes murder, dies

Claus von Bülow at a pretrial hearingImage copyright
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Prosecutors argued Claus von Bülow wanted to get rid of his wife to inherit her wealth

Claus von Bülow, the Danish-born socialite who was convicted and later cleared of the attempted murder of his wealthy heiress wife, has died aged 92.

Von Bülow was found guilty of trying to kill Martha von Bülow with an insulin overdose in 1982.

But the verdict was overturned three years later at a second trial which was sensationalised by the media.

The events were turned into a 1990 Hollywood film, Reversal of Fortune, starring Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons.

Martha Von Bülow, also known as Sunny, was found unconscious at the couple’s Rhode Island mansion in 1980 and spent 28 years in a coma before she died.

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Von Bülow died at his home in London on Saturday, his son-in-law Riccardo Pavoncelli confirmed to the New York Times.

Prosecutors at Von Bülow’s trial, in Newport, Rhode Island, said the Copenhagen-born socialite wanted to get rid of his wife in order to inherit her wealth and be free to marry a mistress.

But the defence depicted his wife, who suffered from low blood sugar, as an alcoholic and drug abuser who drank herself into a coma.

Von Bülow was convicted in 1982, before being cleared on appeal, then acquitted at a second trial in 1985.

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Two years later, he agreed to divorce his wife and give up claims to her fortune of up to $40m (£32m), along with a $120,000-a-year trust fund she had set up for him.

The film, for which Irons won an Oscar, was based on a book by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who worked on Von Bülow’s appeal and second trial.