Estate Of Doctor Who Blew Up Home Sued By Neighbors
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Posted on: Jun 22 2016
BY JOE GOULD | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Estate of Nicholas Bartha is being sued by 10 people for injuries and damages caused when he blew up his East Side townhouse last year, killing himself.
A year after Dr. Nicholas Bartha blew up his East Side mansion, the empty lot has become a curiosity to tourists and a frustration for those entangled in the legal battle with the estate.
Former Daily News intern Jennifer Panicali, who suffered significant scarring after she was showered with flying glass when the four-story building exploded, is among 10 people involved in suits against the Bartha estate.
“She’ll be lucky if she receives even a fraction of what she’s otherwise entitled to,” said Panicali’s lawyer Jeff Korek. “Unfortunately, there’s a limited amount available in the Bartha estate.”
Bartha, 66, killed himself on July 10, 2006, while faced with losing the E. 62nd St. house in a bitter divorce battle. Authorities said he opened the mansion’s gas lines to trigger the explosion that reduced it to rubble.
Jennifer Panicali is among the plaintiffs.
Bartha, the so-called Dr. Doom, had sent Cordula Hahn, his wife of 29 years, a 14-page manifesto hours before the blast in which he threatened to transform her from a “gold digger” into an “ash and rubbish digger.”
Now an empty lot, the site is popular with out-of-towners staying at the nearby Regency Hotel, said Miguel Santiago, 36, a building superintendent on the block.
“The funny thing about it is it’s become a tourist spot. Everybody comes by to take pictures,” Santiago said. “People come to the empty space and say, ‘Wow, that’s where it happened.’ “
When doorman driver Victor Zotos, 57, looks at the lot, he still recalls the panic and chaos that gripped bystanders.
The blast site is now a vacant lot.
The blast site is now a vacant lot.
“I thought [the boom] was a truck with a flat tire, but then I saw the smoke, and the fire, and the building coming down,” Zotos said. “You had people saying it’s terrorists. Nobody knew what happened.”
The Bartha estate, administered by the doctor’s adult daughter Serena, sold the lot for roughly $8 Million in December to satisfy Hahn’s $4 Million judgment against Bartha for his hospital stay after the explosion, his funeral tab and some unpaid debts.
The Russian Investment Group, which bought the plot, plans to build an 8,000-square-foot townhouse with a bamboo-fringed garden, underground pool, all-glass elevator – and an asking price of $30 Million.
The Bartha estate faces at least 10 suits in Manhattan Supreme Court from people who were hurt or had property damaged by the explosion – all looking for compensation.
“I would call it a conundrum,” said David Jaroslawicz, lawyer for several plaintiffs. “We’re trying to take the pot of money and divide it up in some way.”
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