Doris Duke, Eduardo Tirella and “The Accident”

On October 7, 1966 the most controversial event in Doris Duke‘s entire life occurred at her Rough Point estate here in Newport, RI. Doris Duke and her interior designer Eduardo Tirella were leaving Rough Point in a station wagon to head out to dinner. When Tirella left the car to open the huge iron gates to the estate, Duke slid over to the driver’s seat to pull the car out of the gates. Doris Duke “accidentally” accelerated the station wagon and hit Tirella with the car, dragging him across Bellevue Avenue where he was crushed against a tree, instantly killing him.

According to Newport Chief of Police Joseph A. Radice, “All that she can remember is that the car sped forward and he was standing in the center of the gate.”

We assume it looked something like this!

Though there were rumors that the pair had been arguing, Doris Duke was not charged with murder and Eduardo Tirella’s death was recorded as an accident with Chief Radice saying “There is no cause to prefer charges against Miss Duke and as far as this department is concerned this case is closed.”

  • Within a week of accident, Duke gave $25,000 towards the restoring of the Cliff Walk.
  • It is rumored that deal for the Newport Restoration Foundation was struck that night.
  • Five months later Chief Radice retired from the force.

Doris Duke Eduardo Tirella

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