2006_07_e62collapse1.jpg

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.

2006_07_e62collapse3.jpg

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.

2006_07_e62collapse2.jpg

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