A WEALTHY American socialite allegedly murdered by her husband-and-wife tenants was once briefly engaged to Hollywood star Michael Douglas.

Nancy Pfister, 57, was found dead by a friend inside an upstairs cupboard of her Aspen, Colorado mansion on February 26 and her death is now the talk of New York society.

Police have arrested William F Styler III, 65, and Nancy Christine Styler, 62 at the Aspenalt Lodge in Basalt, where they were staying after apparently moving out of Pfister's home on February 22.

They have been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Ms Pfister's father, Art Pfister, developed Buttermilk Mountain ski area in 1958, and her grandfather Robert Hass was a partner at Random House.

"These people were the bluebloods of Aspen," a resort regular, told the New York Post .
"Everybody who's headed to Aspen is talking about this."

Ms Pfister graduated from Brooklyn's Pratt Institute and was in the inner circle of writer Hunter S. Thompson, as well as Hollywood stars who frequented the ski mecca.

"She'd been one of the golden girls of Aspen, seriously into the party scene [in her youth]," a source said.

"She hung out with the Kennedys, Jack Nicholson, Cher, Michael Douglas."

The source added Pfister was even once briefly engaged to Douglas.

The news of her brief engagement to Douglas comes as it was revealed Ms Pfister was forced to cut short her working holiday on the NSW North Coast and fly home after receiving information the couple had not been paying rent or bills.

"I'd like to stay in Australia but the people that were supposedly taking care of my house are not doing what they said they would do and they're not paying rent and they haven't paid utilities," she said in a chilling message on her Facebook page.

Ms Pfister had been staying with dentist Terry Potts, 74, in Byron Bay, where she had been studying permaculture.

The American had spoken about Mr Potts with great affection to her friends, saying he reminded her of her father.

Mr Potts was too distraught to talk about his former houseguest when contacted by news.com.au yesterday.

Ms Pfister was the daughter of the late Betty and Art Pfister, who co-founded Colorado's Buttermilk ski resort. She was known for hosting charity fundraisers at her mansion, most recently raising money for tsunami victims.

Aspen Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said the investigation is ongoing, and he did not rule out the possibility of more arrests. Police have yet to reveal how Ms Pfister died.

Meanwhile her daughter Juliana questioned why anyone would kill her mother over a rent dispute and said she believed there was something more going on.

"How could someone just be so angry that they got kicked out of a house?" Juliana Pfister told ABC News.

"There's got to be something more. It's hard to understand that."