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Stepchildren React Angrily To Von Bulow’s Statements

September 5, 1986

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Claus von Bulow’s offer to divorce his comatose wife if his daughter were allowed to inherit from her mother’s family is a greed-motivated smokescreen, his stepchildren said Friday.

Alexander von Auersperg and Annie-Laurie von Auersperg Kneissl, children of heiress Martha ″Sunny″ von Bulow from her first marriage, accuse their stepfather of hiding behind his daughter, Cosima.

The Danish-born financier said Thursday he had offered to renounce his claim to Mrs. von Bulow’s fortune if his stepchildren would drop their civil suit against him and allow Miss von Bulow to share the $50 million estate of the children’s grandmother.

The offer was rejected, von Bulow said.

The $56 million civil suit alleges von Bulow caused his wife’s two comas with insulin injections during murder attempts at their Newport mansion during 1979 and 1980 Christmas holidays. The second coma is considered irreversible.

Von Bulow, 59, last year was acquitted of twice trying to kill his wife. The retrial verdict followed a Rhode Island Supreme Court reversal of his 1982 conviction.

The motive put forth in the criminal case and the U.S. District Court civil suit are the same: that von Bulow tried to kill his wife to get at her millions and marry his mistress.

Von Bulow has said that he wanted to take the stand during both trials, but was advised against it by counsel.

Von Auersperg and Mrs. Kneissl, through their spokeswoman, said von Bulow was trying to disguise his greed as concern for his daughter.

Before von Bulow was acquitted, Miss von Bulow was disinherited by her maternal grandmother, Annie-Laurie Crawford Aitken, because she stood by her father throughout his four-year legal ordeal.

Von Auersperg and Mrs. Kneissl have successfully fought von Bulow’s attempts to have his daughter reinstated in the will. They said Friday that his latest offer was another selfish scheme disguised as concern for their half-sister.

″He is hiding behind our sister Cosima,″ they said. ″His public statements that he is fighting for Cosima are a see-through smokescreen. He is only fighting for his own self-interest.″

In a telephone interview Thursday, von Bulow said he was willing to give up his estimated $14 million share of his wife’s $75 million fortune if his daughter was given her ″fair share.″

Attempts to reach him Friday were unsuccessful. His live-in girlfriend, Andrea Reynolds, said von Bulow was unavailable.

In addition to seeking to have von Bulow blocked from any of his wife’s money, the suit asks that he be barred from Mrs. von Bulow’s Newport mansion and the Fifth Avenue apartment where he lives with Mrs. Reynolds.

The suit was continued Wednesday until Oct. 20, when von Bulow is to give a deposition. The deposition has been rescheduled several times because von Bulow is suffering from shingles, a painful skin condition.

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