This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," July 10, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: We're going to go now to his lawyer and his bitter divorce really at the root of the explosion of this million-dollar building?
Joining us live in New York is Ira Garr, who represented Dr. Bartha during his divorce proceedings.
Ira, what happened to this marriage?
IRA GARR, DR. BARTHA'S DIVORCE ATTORNEY: The marriage fell apart, and unfortunately, Dr. Bartha didn't want it to.
VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me — take me back to this whole sort of litigation. How long has this divorce litigation been going on?
GARR: The divorce litigation started in October of 2001. We put in an answer in January of 2002, and the case was tried in, I think, March of 2003.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ira, I went through this e-mail that apparently has been sent virtually every place at 7:30 this morning, an e-mail that purports to be from Dr. Bartha. And it is rambling.
It talks about Jane Fonda. It talks about Aruba and Natalee Holloway, about Duke, even Alan Dershowitz made an appearance, Ambassador Joe Wilson, about the judge, gets personal with the judge, talks about his own background, about the fact that his brother was divorced, and apparently, his brother's wife got everything. It goes on and on and on. Seems like a very troubled man.
Did he appear troubled to you when you represented him?
GARR: Yes, unfortunately, Dr. Bartha was in a great deal of pain. He came to this country as an immigrant in 1964, and he worked for 40 years. He thought he had found the American dream. His American dream was the house on 62nd Street off of Madison Avenue. And, I guess, faced with possibly losing it, he couldn't handle the pressure.
VAN SUSTEREN: Where did he meet his wife?
GARR: I believe they met while he was in medical school in Europe.
VAN SUSTEREN: And what kind of doctor is he?
GARR: Excuse me? He's an emergency room physician.
VAN SUSTEREN: And during the course of — I take it from this e-mail, that's been sent around to virtually everybody in the media, that if — the marriage broke down — he has hostility towards his children, apparently, according to the e-mail.
GARR: Well, you know, that was the subject of some discussion at trial, but the children were emancipated already, meaning they were adults, and there was no testimony really about the children. It was mostly about Dr. Bartha and his wife.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did the children side with the mother, though? Because, you know, at one point, he calls the mother a failure, saying that all she had done is create a cook and a seamstress because one of the daughters wanted to have a restaurant, per the e-mail, and the other one wanted to be a fashion designer. But, you know, he makes a crack about them.
GARR: I think Dr. Bartha, who believes strongly in education, was disappointed that his children didn't pursue higher education, as he would have liked. But it really wasn't an issue in the trial.
The issue really was — well, the sexy issue was whether this house, which was gifted to him by his parents, was marital property subject to distribution.
VAN SUSTEREN: Was it marital property subject to distribution in your mind, or did he get sort of the short end of the judicial system?
GARR: Well, the lower court found it wasn't marital property and fashioned a remedy whereby she would get some money. The appellate court said it was marital property.
We had hoped to go to the court of appeals, but it was at that point that Dr. Bartha essentially checked out. We wanted to appeal further, we'd discussed it with him, and he disappeared. And that's about the time my representation ceased.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I guess when — and he didn't show up for the retrial on whether it was marital property or not. At that point, you don't have much to work with in defending it.
GARR: Not at all.
What happened was he engaged me to try the retrial, and then about a month before the retrial, he disappeared again. The court relieved us as counsel.
And from what I understand, the wife's attorney went into it as essentially a default or an inquest. They put in evidence as to the value of the house, and the court awarded half. So I mean, there was no defense. It was basically a slam-dunk for Mrs. Bartha without Dr. Bartha at the trial.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did he own the house before the marriage?
GARR: No. Shortly after the marriage, his parents bought the house in 1980, and his father gave his half to Nicholas shortly thereafter. And then when his mom died in 1997, she gave half of her half to Nicholas and half of her half to the grandchildren. So he had a 75 percent interest in the house by either gift or by inheritance, which, under the statute, is separate property.
VAN SUSTEREN: Any idea what that house was worth?
GARR: At trial, it was valued at $5 million. I understand today, before it was destroyed, it was worth approximately $8 million.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, was there an attempt to force a sale on him? Is that sort of the straw that broke the camel's back?
GARR: Well, I was already out of the case, but from what I understand, the wife obtained a judgment, and the lawyers properly were seeking to enforce the judgment, so they had commenced foreclosure proceedings. And I understand — I found out about two hours ago — proceedings had been put in place to sell the house within the next month or two. That may have precipitated his displeasure.
VAN SUSTEREN: What was he like? Or what is he like? He's still alive. What is he like?
GARR: Dr. Bartha was a serious man, but I think he was a decent man. He worked as a physician his whole life. He helped people. He never made very much money. He was an emergency room physician. He worked 12 to 14 hours a day.
But he had a narrow scope. He was driven to do two things, to work and to remain in the home, which he believed was his entire life. He eschewed all personal pleasures. He rarely went to the movies. He rarely went to dinner. He didn't vacation. The wife and the children vacationed. He worked. And this house was his pride and joy. It was his whole life.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's a very tragic story. Ira, thank you.
GARR: Thank you very much.
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