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'A Friend Needed Help,' Oil Magnate Says : Getty Lent Von Bulow Million for Trial

September 25, 1985|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Oil magnate J. Paul Getty Jr. lent Claus Von Bulow $1 million which he used for bail and to pay legal costs of his retrial on charges of attempting to murder his wife, according to a published report.

"The fact is that a friend needed help and I was able to give it. . . . It's no heroic thing," Getty, 53, is quoted as saying in the October issue of Vanity Fair magazine.

Getty disclosed his role in the highly publicized Von Bulow trials in an interview, the first he is known to have given in years, at a London clinic where the magazine said he is recovering from several ailments blamed "in large part to years of heroin addiction."

One sign of Getty's recovery, the magazine said, is his recent philanthropy, including a donation of $63 million to London's National Gallery, the largest charitable gift on record.

Getty's generosity to Von Bulow stems from a 25-year friendship, the magazine said.

Von Bulow was accused of giving his wife Martha (Sunny) von Bulow insulin injections which rendered her comatose in 1979 and 1980. She has remained in a coma since 1980 and doctors say she is not expected to recover.

Von Bulow was convicted in 1982, then won the right to a retrial, recovered all but $10,000 of the bail money put up by Getty and used it in the second trial, which ended in acquittal on June 10.

"I am certainly not going to ask for it back. I have always told him I wanted it applied to the legal bills, otherwise he would be broke," Getty said.

Von Bulow, 58, a Danish citizen, met Getty's father, billionaire J. Paul Getty, in 1960 and became a family retainer and friend to the younger Getty, known as Paul.

"We became close friends, as we shared many interests, music, art, literature," Von Bulow said.

Getty was "deeply dependent on drugs" after the 1971 heroin overdose of his second wife, the magazine said. It quoted a sworn deposition given by his first wife, Gail, in 1984, that "Paul Jr. has had a serious drug problem for many years involving the use of heroin and cocaine."

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