Six years after Doctor Nicholas Bartha blew up his Manhattan town-home, the empty lot has become a curiosity for tourists, and a legal nightmare for those embroiled in the courtroom battle with the estate.
Bartha, age 66, brought down the entire four-story brick building on July 10, 2006, after it became clear he was about to lose his home in a bitter divorce battle. Investigators discovered that the distraught physician had illegally rigged the building’s gas line to set off the monstrous explosion that reduced it to rubble.
Chunks of flying wallboard, bricks and razor-sharp pieces of glass injured four people who happened to be walking in front of the town-home. NYFD reported that 10 firefighters were also injured. They were hurt in their efforts to rescue the madman.
Bartha, severely burned and barely conscious, was pulled from the rubble. He died five days later.
In the divorce court ruling prior to the explosion, Judge David Saxe stated, “This is not a case of ordinary marital dissatisfaction or even ‘fights.’ ” He said Doctor Bartha had “intentionally traumatized” his wife, a woman of Jewish decent, born in Nazi-occupied Holland, with swastikas taped on the walls around their home.
Immediately before the explosion, Bartha emailed his wife a long, rambling manifesto, which included the following:
“You always wanted me to sell the house. I always told you, ‘I will leave the house only if I am dead.’ You ridiculed me. You should have taken it seriously.”
He also wrote, “When you read these lines your life will change forever. You deserve it. You will be transformed from gold digger to ash and rubbish digger.”
And today, although Bartha has long since been buried, the pain of his victims may go on for decades.
Former parks and recreation intern Jennifer Panicali, one of the most seriously injured, suffered facial lacerations by flying glass when the explosion erupted, and is among many people involved in lawsuits against the Bartha estate.
“She’ll be lucky if she receives even a fraction of what she’s entitled to,” said Panicali’s attorney, Jeff Korek. “Unfortunately, there’s a limited amount of money left in the Bartha estate.”
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The United States has a curious knack of importing doctors with a penchant for violence, and Nicholas Bartha was – by all accounts – a walking time-bomb.
In this classic example of a Third World Assassin, physician Bartha was a graduate of Universita Degli Studi Di Roma La Sapienza, Italy, in 1971. He immigrated to the U.S. from Romania in search of the American dream. He was affiliated with Mt. Vernon Hospital, and Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York.
When this miscreant’s dream went sour he might have done what the rest of us do: pick yourself up; dust yourself off; make the best of your life. The man had skills.
Not Bartha. His way of solving problems was to eradicate a large chunk of a New York neighborhood. And innocent folks be damned.
Just what we want in our emergency physicians.
The only aspect of this entire story that we find uglier than innocent people injured, is the fact that now that he’s dead, dozens of people within the New York medical community are admitting they knew for years this fellow was a loony tune.
But in keeping with the shameful ‘white coat code of silence,’ nobody did anything about it.
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