Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Real-Life Sleeping Beauty

Sunny Crawford Auersperg von Bulow; American heiress,
international socialite; twice almost murdered by her husb-
and, Claus.

Martha "Sunny" von Bulow, heiress to a fortune of over $75 million, was forty-nine years old when she was found lying on the marble floor of her bathroom at her summer residence, 'Clarendon Court' in Newport, Rhode Island, unconscious and unresponsive ~ completely entranced in a coma. Though autopsy reports suggest the coma was a result of a drug overdose, traces of hypoglycemia were found in her system, leading some to suspect foul play on the part of Sunny's second husband, Claus. This was not the first time this had happened to Sunny. Only a few months before, Sunny had been found lying unconscious, her unconcerned husband sitting next to her, reading the newspaper. Other suspicious behavior had occurred from Claus, like telling anyone that would listen that Sunny had a drinking problem, something which many found curious, since Claus was known for buying his wife lavish gifts of whiskey and champagne. In addition, Claus was also seeing a mistress, Alexandra Isles, who demanded he get a divorce from his rich and beautiful wife. Sunny also talked about getting a divorce, saying she was holding her husband back. It appears the only person who had a problem with divorce was Claus.

Claus and Sunny von Bulow 
A trial was summoned, with Sunny's children from her first marriage, Ala and Alex, and her personal maid, Maria, along with the Auersperg and Aitken (Sunny's mother) team of lawyers representing the prosecution. Claus and his team made up the defense. The trial was the talk of Newport, with many of Sunny's neighbors along Bellevue Avenue taking their stance against Claus. In the end, Claus was found guilty on both accounts of trying to murder his wife. An appeal was held, and Claus was found not guilty. To this day, Sunny's family remains convinced that Claus is guilty. Ten after the appeal, Ala and Alex filled a $56 million civil lawsuit on their mother's behalf. An agreement was settled out of court; Claus agreed to divorce Sunny, give up all claims to her fortune and leave the country, on the one condition that his daughter, Cosima (Sunny's only child with Claus) be reinstated in her grandmother's will. Annie Laurie Aitken, Sunny's equally wealthy, remarried mother, had disinherited her third grandchild from her estate when she sided with Claus. As according to the agreement, Cosima inherited $30 million as her one-third share when her grandmother died in 1983. For 28 more years, Sunny lived on, still raptured in the never-ending coma, in the seedy New York City nursing home she was placed in on the day of her coma, guarded by round-the-clock armed bodyguards, eventually dying of cardiopulmonary arrest in 2008, at the age of 77. 

To read the entire story, please click HERE

Sunday, September 8, 2013

William Vanderbilt Dies in New York

The Evening Independent - Jan 8, 1944

New York, Jan. 8 - William Kissam Vanderbilt II, 65, former president of the New York Central railroad and one of the nation's foremost yachtsman; died at 12:32 a. m. today of a heart ailment which had forced him to return to his home here from Florida before Christmas.
     He was one of the wealthiest men in the United States and a great-grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, founder of both the railroad and the Vanderbilt family fortune. At death he was a director of the railroad and a member of it's executive committee.

Vanderbilt - Circa 1930's.
With his brother , Harold, he was a residuary legatee in the $56,000,000 estate left by his father, also named William Kissam Vanderbilt.
     Four years after leaving Harvard university, Vanderbilt went to work on the railroad in 1903, becoming assistant to the president in 1910, vice-president in 1912 and president in 1918. After a year in the presidency, he became a director until his death.

Vanderbilt and his wife Rosamund - circa 1931.
During the last few years, he was also a director of the Western Union Telegraph company.

The Survivors 

     He is survived by his wife, the former Mrs. Rosamund Lancaster Warburton; his brother Harold; his daughters, Muriel and Consuelo, and a sister, Mrs. Jacques Balsan, former Duchess of Marlborough.

    Vanderbilt's interest in the sea led him to make many round-the-world trips in private yachts and in establishing the Vanderbilt marine museum at Northport, Long Island, New York. 

Vanderbilt's great yacht "Alva" - circa 1936.

When motoring was in it's fancy he amused himself for awhile as a racing driver and built the Long Island Motor parkway, 60 miles of toll highway, which he later donated as a public road.

     He was one of the first millionaires to use an airplane to commute from home to business. A pilot himself, he made two flights to South Africa when such long air trips were unusual.

     For private consumption, Vanderbilt wrote books on his trips by plane and yacht. His latest yacht, the Alva, was built at an estimated cost of $2,500,000 and was one of the most palatial yachts afloat.

Entrance to Vanderbilt's Long Island estate, 'Eagle's Nest' (Robert Bruce)

When the present war broke out Vanderbilt gave the ALva to the government. In the First World War he served as lieutenant commander in the navy aboard one of his own vessels. 

     Vanderbilt was first married in 1899 to Virginia Fair, daughter of U. S. Senator Fair, Nevada silver king. They were divorced in 1927 and shortly afterwards he married Mrs. Warburton, who was a constant companion on his extensive voyages.

    The Vanderbilts maintained a home known as Alva Base at Terminal island, near Miami Beach, Florida and another home next to the museum at Northport.

The Vanderbilt Family mausoleum at Moravian Cemetery, Staten Island. Where
every Vanderbilt family member is buried. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The President's House

The Bush Family Compound, Kennebunkport, Maine.
The Bush Family Compound has been used as a retreat by the family for over a century. First purchased around 1900 by George H. Walker, a St. Louis banker, with the main house later being built in 1903, the home was later passed to Walker's daughter, Dorothy Bush, who had married Wall Street banker Prescott Bush, later a United States Senator from Connecticut. Bush, like his son to come, was very active in politics, favoring a Nixon-Rockefeller ticket for 1960. He later denounced Rockefeller, who had been his longtime friend, for his remarriage to a woman, 20 years his junior. Later, the main house was given to Dorothy and Prescott's son, George Herbert Walker Bush, named after his grandfather; the 41st President of The United States.

Three generations of the Bush family gather in front of their beloved family
home, Maine. 1980's. 
During Bush's vice-presidency and presidency, and even during his son's presidency, the compound was visited by many prominent celebrities and world leaders; including Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev, British Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Bill Clinton. Celebrities include Billy Graham and his wife Ruth, Brooke Astor and Nancy Reagan. 

A water-color of the Bush Family Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The Bush family continued to use the compound throughout his presidency, also frequenting their residence in Texas, located in the posh neighborhood of Tanglewood. Today, both President Bush and his son can be found at their working residences in Texas, though the Bush family still owns their Maine compound, which is visited by the former President and Fist Lady, once or twice a year. 

The Gilded Age Era Facebook Page!

Kirkside, Miss Helen M. Gould's Summer Home, Rexbury-in-the Catskille.
The Gilded Age Era now has it's very own Facebook Page! Now 
you can check updates and see currents post all from Facebook! Come and show your support!

Also something to check out, my highly esteemed Facebook group "Newport ~ Queen of Resorts", for all the latest info on our Newport Cottages. With over 160 members, we are a presence indeed! 

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