The doctor suspected of blowing up his New York City townhouse rather than allowing his ex-wife to benefit from its sale has died nearly a week after suffering critical injuries in the blast, a hospital spokeswoman said Sunday.
Dr. Nicholas Bartha, 66, survived the blast, but died late Saturday, said Mary Halston, a New York Presbyterian Hospital administrator. Bartha lived and worked out of the four-story East Side Manhattan townhouse and was its only occupant during the blast.
Police had been unable to speak to Bartha following the explosion because of his critical condition. Authorities have said they were investigating whether the doctor might have caused the July 10 explosion rather than sell the town house as part of a divorce judgment favoring his ex-wife.
Bartha's ex-wife told police she received an e-mail from him shortly before the explosion warning that she would be "transformed from gold digger to ash and rubbish digger."
"I always told you I will leave the house only if I am dead," the e-mail said, according to his ex-wife.
Investigators have confirmed that someone tampered with a gas line leading into the home's basement, allowing vapors to flow freely for hours until it caused the building to blow up.
The physician, who lived and worked in the four-story landmark, was its lone occupant during the blast, which leveled the building and left the upscale block covered in bricks, broken glass and splintered wood.
Authorities said at least 14 others were injured, including 10 firefighters.
Rescuers were able to pull the doctor from the rubble after hearing his calls.
The town house and land were worth nearly $6.4 million, according to the city's finance department. The property was to be sold at auction in October to pay a $4 million judgment against Bartha, though his ex-wife had predicted he wouldn't leave without a fight.
"He has said many times that he intends to 'die in my house,"' Cordula Bartha said in a petition filed last year.
The doctor was responsible for other implied threats against his ex-wife, according to court records.
A 2005 appellate court opinion said that the doctor had "intentionally traumatized" Cordula Bartha, a Jew who was born in Nazi-occupied Holland, by posting "swastika-adorned articles and notes" around their home. The opinion also said Bartha had "ignored her need for support and assistance while she was undergoing surgery and treatment for breast cancer."