Claus von Bülow

Claus von Bülow

Claus von Bülow (born 11 August 1926 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a British socialite of German and Danish ancestry.[1] He was accused of the attempted murder of his wife Sunny von Bülow (née Martha Sharp Crawford) by administering an insulin overdose in 1980 but his conviction in the first trial was reversed and he was found not guilty in both his retrials.[2]



Born as Claus Cecil Borberg, von Bülow's father was Danish playwright Svend Borberg. His mother Jonna belonged to the old Danish-German noble family Bülow, originally from Mecklenburg. He was the maternal grandson of Fritz Bülow, Minister of Justice from 1910–13 and President of the first Chamber of the Danish Parliament in 1920–22.

Clarendon Court, Yznaga Street and Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island

Von Bülow graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, and worked as personal assistant to J. Paul Getty after having practiced law in London in the 1950s. Getty wrote that von Bülow showed "remarkable forbearance and good nature" as Getty's occasional whipping boy. Von Bülow remained with Getty until 1968. On June 6, 1966, von Bülow married Sunny, the American ex-wife of Prince Alfred of Auersperg. Sunny had a son and a daughter from her first marriage; together, she and von Bülow had a daughter, Cosima Iona von Bülow, in 1967.

Murder trials

In 1982, von Bülow was tried for the attempted murder of Sunny. The main evidence was that Sunny had low blood sugar, common in many conditions, but a blood test showed a high insulin level. The test was not repeated.[3] The needle was used against von Bulow in court, with the prosecution alleging that he used it and a vial of insulin to try and kill his wife. The discovery of these items became the focal point of Von Bülow's appeal.

At the trial in Newport, von Bülow was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison; he appealed, hiring Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz to represent him. Dershowitz's campaign to acquit von Bülow was assisted by Jim Cramer, who was then a Harvard Law School student. Dershowitz and his team focused on the discovery of the bag containing the syringes and insulin. Sunny's family had hired a private investigator to look in to the coma. The private investigator, Eddie Lambert (an associate of the Von Bülows' lawyer Richard Kuh), was told by several family members and a maid that Claus had recently been locking a closet in the Newport home that previously was always kept open. Lambert and Kuh hired a locksmith to drive to the mansion, with the intention of picking the closet lock to find what the closet contained. They had lied to the locksmith and told him that one of them owned the house. When the three arrived, the locksmith insisted they try again to find the key, and after some searching, Kuh found a key in Claus' desk that fit the closet. At this point, according to the three men in original interviews, the locksmith was paid for the trip and left before the closet was actually opened, though the men would later recant that version and insist that the locksmith was present when they entered the closet. It was in the closet that the main evidence against Claus Von Bülow was found. In 1984 the conviction was reversed based on the fact that the main evidence was gained illegally, by someone who may have stood to gain from Claus' conviction. in 1985, after a second trial, von Bülow was found not guilty on all charges. [4]

At the second trial the defense called eight medical experts, all university professors, who testified that Sunny's two comas were not caused by insulin, but by a combination of ingested (not injected) drugs, alcohol, and chronic health conditions. The experts were John Caronna (chairman of neurology, Cornell); Leo Dal Cortivo (former president, U.S. Toxicology Association); Ralph DeFronzo (medicine, Yale); Kurt Dubowski (forensic pathology, University of Oklahoma); Daniel Foster (medicine, University of Texas); Daniel Furst (medicine, University of Iowa); Harold Lebovitz (director of clinical research, State University of New York); Vincent Marks (clinical biochemistry, Surrey, vice-president Royal College of Pathologists and president, Association of Clinical Biochemistry); and Arthur Rubinstein (medicine, University of Chicago).[citation needed]

Other experts testified that the hypodermic needle tainted with insulin on the outside (but not inside) would have been dipped in insulin but not injected; injecting it in flesh would have wiped it clean. Evidence also showed that Sunny's hospital admission three weeks before the final coma showed she had ingested at least 73 aspirin tablets, a quantity that could only have been self-administered, and which indicated her state of mind.[5]

Sunny's family remained convinced of Claus's guilt. For having sided with her father, Cosima von Bülow was disinherited by her maternal grandmother, Annie Laurie (Crawford) Aitken. Von Bülow's two stepchildren from Sunny's previous marriage sued him for $56 million. As a result, von Bülow renounced his claim to Sunny's $75 million personal fortune in exchange for Cosima's reinstatement as joint heiress to the Crawford fortune. Sunny von Bülow continued to live almost 28 more years in a vegetative state until dying at a New York nursing home on 6 December 2008. She was 77 years old.

As of 2010, Claus von Bülow lives in South Kensington, London, where he writes art and theatre reviews.

Literary, cinema, and television accounts

  • Alan Dershowitz wrote the book Reversal of Fortune: Inside the von Bülow case (1985) that was cinematically adapted as Reversal of Fortune (1990). Jeremy Irons starred as Claus von Bülow (a performance which won him both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actor), Ron Silver as Dershowitz, and Glenn Close as Sunny von Bülow.
  • Professor Vincent Marks and Caroline Richmond have a chapter on the science underpinning Sunny's medical condition in their book, Insulin Murders (London, Royal Society of Medicine Press 2007).
  • Television reporter Bill Kurtis narrated the American Justice crime series episode titled Von Bülow: A Wealth of Evidence.
  • The television series Biography produced and aired a documentary episode titled Claus von Bülow: A Reasonable Doubt featuring interviews with Claus von Bülow and Prof. Dershowitz.


  1. ^ Claus von Bülow
  2. ^ State v. von Bülow, 475 A.2d 995 (R.I. 1984).
  3. ^ Marks, Vincent (2007). Insulin Murders: True life cases. RSM Press. pp. 27. ISBN 9781853157600. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Trial transcripts, June 1984

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Claus von Bülow — (* 11. August 1926 als Claus Cecil Borberg in Kopenhagen, Dänemark) ist ein Brite deutsch dänischer Herkunft. Er gelangte Anfang der 1980er Jahre zu weltweiter Bekanntheit, weil er wegen zweifachen Mordversuchs an seiner Ehefrau Sunny von Bülow… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Von Bulow — Von Bülow Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Les Bülows sont une famille noble allemande, portant les titres de baron (Freiherr), de comte (Graf) ou de prince (Fürst). Sommaire 1 Liste de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Von Bulow v. Von Bulow — 811 F.2d 136 (2nd Cir. 1987), was a case appealed from a contempt ruling after the District Court rejected the claim of a reporter s privilege by Claus von Bulow and Andrea Reynolds.Reynolds, a paralegal, appealed a contempt ruling after she ref …   Wikipedia

  • Von Bülow — …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Von Bülow — Cette page explique l histoire ou répertorie les différents membres de la famille von Bülow. Blason des Bülow La famille von Bülow est une famille de la noblesse allemande, portant les titres de baron (Freiherr), de comte (Graf) ou de prince… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • von Bulow, Sunny — ▪ 2009 Martha Sharp Crawford        American heiress born Sept. 1, 1931, Manassas, Va. died Dec. 6, 2008, New York, N.Y. spent nearly 28 years in a coma after being found unconscious in a bathroom of her Newport, R.I., mansion on Dec. 21, 1980;… …   Universalium

  • Claus von Amsberg — Príncipe Consorte de los Países Bajos Predecesor Bernardo de Lippe Biesterfeld Nombre real Klaus Georg Wilhelm Otto Friedrich Gerd von Amsberg …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sunny von Bülow — Born Martha Sharp Crawford September 1, 1931(1931 09 01) Manassas, Virginia Died December 6, 2008(2008 12 06) (aged 77) Manhattan, New York Nationality …   Wikipedia

  • Sunny von Bülow — Nacimiento 1 de agosto de 1931 Manassas, Virginia Fallecimiento 6 de diciembre de 2008 Manhattan …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sunny von Bülow — (* 1. September 1932 in Manassas, Virginia; † 6. Dezember 2008 in New York City; eigentlich Martha Sharp Crawford von Bülow) war eine US amerikanische Erbin, die Anfang der 1980er Jahre weltweite Berühmtheit erlangte, nachdem ihr damaliger… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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