Roman Blum, a Holocaust survivor who died this past January at 97, left behind a $40 million New York estate that has no heirs
, the largest unclaimed estate in the state's history, according to the New York State comptroller’s office.
Blum had no will or surviving family members at the time of his death; his wife died in 1992 and the couple had no children, The New York Times reported.
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The real estate developer's body reportedly stayed at the Staten Island University Hospital morgue for four days, until a rabbi tracked down Blum's attorney.
Blum acquired his vast fortune through building hundreds of houses throughout the New York City borough of Staten Island.
Under a legal rule called escheat, New York State will inherit the $40 million
after three years if no one comes forward to claim the estate, Forbes magazine reported.
Paul Skurka, a friend of Blum's and fellow Holocaust survivor, said Blum made a very serious mistake by not writing a will.
"He was a very smart man but he died like an idiot," said Paul Skurka, a friend of Blum's and fellow Holocaust survivor.
Mason D. Corn, an accountant and friend of Blum's for 30 years, told The Times that Blum knew he had to write a will.
"I spoke to Roman many times before he passed away, and he knew what to do, how to name beneficiaries," Corn said. "Two weeks before he died, I had finally gotten him to sit down. He saw the end was coming. He was becoming mentally feeble. We agreed. I had to go away, and so he told me, 'O.K., when you come back I will do it.' But by then it was too late. We came this close, but we missed the boat."
Little is known about Blum, except for what a handful of fellow Holocaust survivors were able to recall. Blum was reportedly from Poland. He met a family of Holocaust survivors after World War II and married one of the daughters. Despite that the marriage lasted for decades, it was a relationship that was not founded on love, Blum's friends told The Times.
"It was immediately after the war — he thought she was the last Jewish woman alive, and she thought there were no more men," a friend and fellow Holocaust survivor said.
A shrewd and hard-driving businessman, Blum started work every day 6 a.m., friends said.
As he got older, Blum accused friends of stealing and hid tens of thousands of dollars around his home, they said. They are convinced that Blum has a note containing a signed will somewhere in his home. So far, investigators have yet to recover such a note.
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