How Did Robert Durst Die? Cause of Death

He was the real estate heir who many suspected was responsible for the death of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst, when she vanished under suspicious circumstances in 1982. Then, in 2021, he was found guilty of killing his friend and confidant, Susan Berman, and sentenced to life behind bars. How Robert Durst died should come as some comfort to the families of his victims though there are still a lot of questions left unanswered.

Durst was born in New York City on April 12, 1943, into a wealthy family known for its real estate empire. Durst’s father Seymour Durst was a prominent property developer and the head of The Durst Organization. The family was exceptionally affluent and the young Durst attended prestigious schools, including the Horace Mann School in New York City and Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a degree in economics.

His connection to several suspicious deaths was the subject of The Jinx documentary series by Andrew Jarecki. In the series’ final moments, he seemingly confesses to three murders on a live mic while in the bathroom: “There it is. You’re caught. … What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.” (The quotes were later revealed to have been manipulated for dramatic effect but the production.) Here’s the story of how Robert Durst died.

How did Robert Durst die?

Robert Durst’s health had been deteriorating for some time during the Berman trial, for which he was eventually found guilty of her murder. He had bladder cancer and two days after his sentencing, he contracted COVID and was hospitalized. He later died, age 78, of natural causes due to a number of health issues in 2022.

Robert Durst (R), seated with attorney Dick DeGuerin, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on October 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Durst was sentenced for the murder of Susan Berman in 2000.

Durst’s trial had already been delayed 14 months because of the pandemic, and his trial attorney Dick DeGuerin described him as being “very, very sick”; the worst he’s looked in 20 years of representing him. According to NPR, “Durst entered the courtroom with a wide-eyed vacant stare. Near the end of the hearing, after Berman’s loved ones told the judge how her death upended their lives, Durst coughed hard and then appeared to struggle to breathe. His chest heaved and he pulled his mask down below his mouth and began to gulp for air.”

Durst was arrested in 2015 in connection with the murder of his friend Susan Berman, who was found shot to death in her Los Angeles home in 2000. Durst was accused of killing Berman to prevent her from revealing information about Kathleen McCormack Durst’s disappearance. He was convicted in 2021 and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

Robert Durst left behind a mighty fortune

Durst’s net worth was estimated to be $100 million, per the New York Times, which is a drop in the ocean compared to that of the Durst empire—Forbes magazine estimates the family’s fortune at $8.1 billion. The Durst family owns more than 16 million square feet of real estate in New York and Philadelphia, including a 10 percent stake in One World Trade Center.

He left his fortune to Debrah Lee Charatan, his wife at the time of his death. Ironically, the day of Charatan’s hearing to become the executor of his estate fell on the 40th anniversary of his first wife Kathie Durst’s disappearance, who was declared legally dead in 2017.

In 2022, Kathie Durst’s family sought more than $100 million from Durst’s estate and widow in a wrongful death suit. Robert Abrams, the family’s attorney, claimed Charatan quietly married Durst in 2000 to help him evade authorities after the investigation into Kathie Durst’s disappearance was reopened.

Robert Durst's net worth

Abrams said the suit is an “important step toward justice for Kathie and toward exposing the corruption that allowed Robert Durst to go unpunished,” adding that once Charatan was appointed executor, she would “apparently seek to collect the balance of her husband’s interest in the Durst family Trusts, which we believe was promised to Ms. Charatan in exchange for helping Robert Durst evade justice in connection with the murders of Kathie, Susan Berman, and Morris Black.”

He also told the Associated Press: “We’re not about to let Debrah Charatan dissolve the trust and get tens of millions of dollars more. You don’t get tens of millions of dollars in America for covering up a murder.”

The Jinx — Part Two airs its finale on Sunday, May 26 at 9 pm ET on HBO and Max.

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