As the dust has literally settled from what used to be a four story building at 34 East 62nd, the rather sordid and sad story of the building's owner, Dr. Nicholas Bartha, emerged. Bartha seemed to have blown up the building in a suicide attempt and a lasting effort to make sure his ex-wife wouldn't get the $5 million house in a settlement. After a judge had ruled that the landmark house should be divided and split as part of the his divorce settlement with Cordula Bartha weeks ago, a sheriff's deputy served Bartha with eviction papers on Friday. And their marriage seemed tumultuous - one judge felt Bartha "intentionally traumatized" his wife, a Holocaust survivor, with swastikas and more. The Times linked to the divorce ruling that gave partial ownership of the building to Mrs. Bartha.


Bartha was found by two rescue workers in the rubble; the NY Times has a great graphic of how the building was used - and where Bartha was found. He had serious burns and was taken to a hospital; the only other non-rescue worker injured was a Parks employee walking to work. While Bartha will be investigated and may face jail, he's so injured that the authorities aren't questioning him yet.


The Daily News has excerpts of Bartha's suicide email, which show a very dramatic and angry man. People thought it was a terrorist attack - a natural fear after word that there were early plots to bomb transit tunnels.

Today, there is clean-up and investigation of the lot. Yesterday, our commenters gave us tips about the incident and dispute over the building. And our question - can Cordula Bartha claim any insurance money from the explosion?

Update: The Real Estate at the Observer uploaded the PDF of Bartha's email. It makes for some pretty crazy reading.

Top and bottom photographs by bhaggs on Flickr; middle photograph by Seth Wenig/AP