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$40 Million, No Heirs: Rich Holocaust Survivor Dies With No Family or Will

By Michael Mullins   |  

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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Roman Blum, a Holocaust survivor who died this past January at 97, left behind a $40 million New York estate and has no heirs, the largest unclaimed estate in the state's history, according to the New York State comptroller’s office.
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