Sunny Von Bulow 1931-2008
updated 12/22/2008 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 12/22/2008 AT 01:00 AM EST
By the time Sunny died on Dec. 6 in a Manhattan nursing home at age 77, she had spent 28 years in a coma. Soon after she was found unconscious in 1980, an investigator hired by her two children from her first marriage (to Prince Alfred von Auersperg of Austria) searched her Newport mansion. He emerged with evidence Claus had been having an affair—and a black bag that was said to contain three syringes, one bearing traces of insulin. In 1982, Claus—who admitted the affair—stood trial, charged with twice trying to kill Sunny with injections of insulin. He was found guilty, but the verdict was thrown out after his attorney Alan Dershowitz argued that a critical police search had been illegal. At a 1985 retrial, Claus was acquitted.
In 1987, to settle a civil suit by the von Auersperg children, Claus agreed to divorce Sunny, leave the country and renounce any claim to her fortune in exchange for restoring an inheritance for Cosima, his and Sunny's daughter. The day after Sunny's death, Claus, now 82, living in London and a theater critic until 2006, told the London Times, "My daughter and I are both very sad."