Heiress Martha ‘Sunny’ von Bulow Dead at Age 76

After spending 28 years in a coma Sunny von Bulow died on Saturday at a New York City nursing home. Von Bulow was the subject of a bestselling book and movie.

Sunny von Bulow’s husband was accused of attempting to kill her. Claus von Bulow was charged twice on attempted murder when his wife slipped into a coma 28 years ago.

The couple were the toast of New York in 1966 when they married. Claus von Bulow was a Danish-born financier. At the time of their marriage Sunny’s estimated fortune was $75 million.

To the outside world they lead a charmed life with residences in both New York’s Fifth Avenue and Newport, Rhode Island.

On December 27, 1979 Sunny slipped into a coma. She was quickly revived but almost a year later the heiress slipped into another coma. On December 21, 1980 she was found unconscious on her bathroom floor. She never recovered from that coma.

Mrs. von Bulow’s children from a previous marriage hired a private investigator for $400,000 that led to an attempted murder indictment for Claus von Bulow.

The trial was front page news during the early 1980’s. The scandal included the theory that von Bulow used an overdose of insulin to kill his wife.

As the trial wore on it was revealed that Sunny was an alcoholic and drug abuser. She suffered attacks of hypoglycemia. Friends Joanne Carson, wife of Johnny Carson, and Truman Capote testified that she had used drugs. Her children denied that claim.

The book “Reversal of Fortune” detailed the case. In 1990 the novel was made into a movie starring Glenn Close as Sunny and Jeremy Irons as her husband Claus.

Martha “Sunny” von Bulow leaves behind daughter Cosima Pavoncelli, Annie-Laurie von Auersperg Isham and Alexander von Auersperg.

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