Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Claus von Bulow Case

Lingering and Conclusion

Acquittal was not the end of Claus von Bülow's court battles. For backing her father in his retrial, Cosima von Bülow was disinherited by her grandmother and stood to lose $30 million.

Ala Kneissel and Alexander von Auersperg filed a $56 million suit against Claus to extricate him from their family fortune.

"We know, and he knows, that he tried to murder our mother," Alexander said after the criminal verdict was announced. "We feel that way about him. We can never forget that."

Cosima with Claus von Bulow
Cosima with Claus von Bülow

Eventually, Claus dropped his claim against Sunny's estate in return for Cosima being reinstated into Annie Laurie Aitken's will.

It would be nice to say that in this modern tale of princesses and princes that everyone lived happily ever after, but that would not be true. No one will ever know precisely why Sunny von Bülow, the shy, beautiful, but unhappy, rich woman slipped into an irreversible coma. Cosima, Alexander and Ala lost their mother. Their differing views of their mother's husband have caused them to part company. Innocent or guilty, Claus von Bülow will be forever labeled as the man who tried to kill his wife. And Sunny, whether she tried to destroy herself or not, had the worst of it. She lingered in that twilight zone of unconsciousness for nearly 28 years. Sunny von Bulow died Saturday, December 6th, 2008 in a New York nursing home. She was 76. 

In a Harvard Law School forum several weeks after his acquittal, von Bülow summed up his experience during the investigation and trials: "This was a tragedy and it satisfied all of Aristotle's definitions of tragedy. Everyone is wounded, some fatally."

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