A year before the death of Abe Hirschfeld, his son – who has been accused by his sister of conning the real estate mogul out of $300 million in his declining days – thwarted an investigation into a mysterious fall that landed the frail parking lot magnate in the hospital, a lawyer alleges.
“Mr. Hirschfeld told me that he had believed that his son pushed him down the stairs,” Simon Rosen writes in a damning Feb. 25 statement about Hirschfeld’s son, Elie. “Mr. Hirschfeld expressed concern that his son wanted to take control of his business affairs.”
But Elie, who’d taken over the family business, allegedly barricaded the entrance to his dad’s Lenox Hill Hospital room when Rosen tried to visit in November 2004.
“He directed me to leave the hospital and threatened to call security to have me forcibly removed,” Rosen said in the sworn statement.
Hirschfeld was allegedly the victim of repeated physical abuse by Elie, according to Hirschfeld’s longtime assistant Danny Esquilin. Esquilin says when he went to visit his ailing boss in Nov. 2004, Hirschfeld had a bloodied gash across his nose and his arm wrapped in a bandage. When Esquilin asked his boss what happened, Hirschfeld replied, “What do you think? Elie did this.”
Esquilin says Elie abused his father right up until his death in an assisted living facility. Hirschfeld had asked Esquilin to take photographs of him to document the abuse but did not want him to go to the authorities since Hirschfeld himself had past troubles with the law, most notably his 22-month jail sentence for plotting to kill his business partner.
In a statement, Elie Hirschfeld, 63, strongly denied the “baseless” claims, which he called “another ploy in my sister’s regrettable, years-long campaign to extract exorbitant sums from me.”
When he died at age 85 on Aug. 9, 2005, Hirschfeld’s estate was worth a mere $7 million, documents show. At one point Hirschfeld’s net worth was around $1 billion.
Throughout his career, Abe Hirschfeld waged many failed campaigns for political office, including unsuccessful bids as “Honest Abe” for the U.S. Senate in 1974 (he was defeated in the Democratic primary), for the New York City Council, for Manhattan Borough President in 1997, for Lieutenant Governor of New York, for New York State Comptroller in 1998, and for Mayor of Miami Beach, Florida. He did serve as treasurer for the New York State Democratic Committee in the 1960s and was elected to the City Commission of Miami Beach in 1989. His most recent attempt at running for political office was in 2004, when he ran as a third party candidate for U.S. Senator from New York against Chuck Schumer and other challengers. Schumer won 71% of the vote; Hirschfeld garnered less than 1%.