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Claus von Bülow (born Claus Cecil Borberg on 11 August 1926 in Copenhagen, Denmarkmarker) is a Britishmarker socialite of German and Danish ancestry. 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 his retrial.

Biography

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

Clarendon Court, Yznaga Street and Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI, USA.


Claus von Bülow graduated from Trinity College, Cambridgemarker, and worked as personal assistant to J. Paul Getty after having practised 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, and she and von Bülow had a daughter, Cosima Iona von Bülow, in 1967.

In 1982, von Bülow was tried for the attempted murder of Sunny, which allegedly occurred at her estate, Clarendon Court, in Newport, Rhode Islandmarker. The main evidence was that Sunny had low blood sugar, common in many conditions, but a blood test showed a high insulin level. Insulin testing was notoriously error-prone and the test should have been repeated, to confirm or refute it. This was not done, perhaps because it was Christmas.Shortly after the insulin reading, the family invited the police to search the house for a second time; they found a vial of insulin, needle and syringe.

At the trial in Newport, von Bülow was found guilty and sentenced to thirty years in prison; he appealed, hiring Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz to represent him. Dershowitz's campaign to acquit von Bülow was assisted by the then Harvard Law Schoolmarker student and later television personality Jim Cramer; Cramer privately and later publicly considered von Bülow to be "supremely guilty". Professor Dershowitz and associates rendered doubtful the first trial's most damning evidence and testimony; in 1984 the conviction was reversed; in 1985, after a second trial, von Bülow was found not guilty on all charges.

At the second trial the defence called eight medical experts, all world-class 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).

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.

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 years in a vegetative state until dying at a New York nursing home on 6 December 2008.

Currently, von Bülow lives in London, writing art and theatre reviews.

Literary, cinema, and television accounts

Comedian Denis Leary refers to Claus Von Bulow in a NyQuil skit during his 1992 "No Cure For Cancer" stand up show.

Professor 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), 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.

The cartoon show 'The Simpsons', in episode 20 of season 5, 'The Boy Who Knew Too Much', refers to Claus von Bülow.

In episode 5 of the cartoon show 'The Critic', Jay tells his mother to "Calm down! Take some of those pills you got from Dr Von Bülow".

References



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