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Sunny’s Money On Display

Von Bulow art at the Morgan.


The nasty family fight over Sunny von Bulow’s estimated $75 million fortune dragged on for seven years after she slipped into an insulin-related coma in 1980, sparking the attempted-murder trial of her husband Claus (convicted, then overturned, retried, then acquitted), as well as the book and film Reversal of Fortune. Visitors to the Morgan Library & Museum can see where some of that money went starting June 29, with the exhibition “Tales and Travels,” a show of 80 drawings by Turner, Ingres, Watteau, et al. bought over the last three decades with Sunny’s funds. The Newport, Rhode Island, socialite was a big supporter of the museum, and daughter Cosima Pavoncelli, who inherited $30 million, has continued to buy and donate similar art in her mother’s name in the intervening years, the museum says. The Von Bulows, who made their first gift of European drawings to the Morgan in 1977, were big players at New York museums in the seventies; they also gave the Met a nineteenth-century bronze, several paintings, and Sunny’s pink-feathered Givenchy evening gown. The reward: Halfway up the Met’s grand staircase, carved into the wall of patrons, reads CLAUS VON BULOW.

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