How did Nikola Tesla die - Nikola Tesla death
How did Nikola Tesla die?

How did Nikola Tesla die?

Nikolina Varga

Nothing about the life of this brilliant scientist and inventor was ordinary, but how did Nikola Tesla die? All his life, he was so busy with his inventions and making the world a better place that he couldn't cope with the capitalist world. Tesla was never a good businessman. Since he never pursued his ideas commercially, his attempts to make profits from his past inventions only led him to financial ruin, so he ended his life alone and bankrupt.

In 1925, he ended up in court with his patent lawyer, Ralph J. Hawking, who attempted to collect over $900 in legal fees Tesla owed him. To save old Tesla from public embarrassment and homelessness, the Westinghouse Company agreed to hire him as a consulting engineer with a monthly pension of $125. Tesla used part of this sum to rent a suite in the New Yorker Hotel, where he lived until his death. Tesla also had to put his belongings in storage, paying the Manhattan Storage company, which threatened to auction them off if he didn't pay the debt. During this time, his nephew Sava Kosanović served as Yugoslav ambassador to the United States and was forced to pay the debt.

Tesla’s old age


Tesla's health began to deteriorate rapidly after his 75th birthday, although he ate only cooked vegetables and kept visitors away from him. In 1937, he was hit by a cab but refused medical treatment. By 1942 he was largely immobile, and his mind was also failing. Although he was weakening physically, his mind found solutions to keep things interesting. His memory was filled with many memories of Mark Twain. Their friendship began when Twain heard that his humor had helped Tesla out of a serious illness in his youth. From then on, they developed a bond filled with many pleasant incidents. Tesla recalled every incident involving Mark Twain. While imagining Mark Twain in his room, Tesla went through the pile of memory records until he reached the satisfactory one. Then he concentrated so much vital energy on bringing it into the visualization center of his brain that it burned through and destroyed all subsequent memory records. The memory of Mark Twain's death was also wiped out. Tesla believed that Mark Twain was still alive, and in July sent a telegraph messenger boy to deliver $100 to Mark Twain at 35 South Fifth Avenue, the address of his old laboratory.

How did Nikola Tesla die?

Tesla died peacefully in his sleep on the night of January 7, 1943, in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel. His body was found by the maid Alice Monaghan after she'd entered his room, ignoring the "do not disturb" sign Tesla had placed on the door two days earlier. The medical examiner determined the cause of death was coronary thrombosis.

Of course, things are never simple with Tesla, so there have been claims that he was killed by a German spy, but considering his advanced age and poor health, it is more likely that he died of natural causes.

Under the FBI’s investigation

At the height of the II World War, Tesla claimed to have invented a powerful particle beam weapon known as the "death ray" that was allegedly crucial to the ongoing conflict. Immediately after Tesla's death, the U.S. government became concerned about Tesla's particle beam. To avoid the risk of Tesla's inventions falling into enemy hands, the U.S. government confiscated Tesla's property and documents.

The morning after Tesla's death, his nephew Sava Kosanovic went to his room at the Hotel New Yorker to find his will. Kosanović, who was then director of the Eastern and Central European Planning Board for the Balkans, assumed that as Tesla's nephew he had rightfully inherited his uncle's papers and possessions. Kosanović was joined by Charlotte Mužar, Bogoljub Jevtić, Boris Furlan, Ken Swezey, and radio historian George Clark. The safe in the room was locked, so Kosanović called a locksmith to open it and change the combination. In the presence of the hotel staff, Kosanović checked the contents of the safe, removed several photos, and closed the safe again.

Meanwhile, an agent of the FBI, L.M.C. Smith, contacted the Office of the Alien Property Custodian (OAPC). This agency was interested in the case because Tesla was an American citizen, but Kosanović wasn't, so Tesla's property could have been seized by the government. Walter C. Gorsuch of the OAPC, therefore, went to the Hotel New Yorker and seized all of Tesla's belongings in his bedroom and the storage room. The two truckloads of material from this property were taken to the Manhattan Storage Company, where Tesla had deposited eighty barrels and bundles about ten years earlier.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation assigned John G. Trump (uncle of the 45th U.S. president, Donald J. Trump), a professor at M.I.T. and an established electrical engineer, to investigate Tesla's property, which was in the possession of the Alien Property Custodian. On January 26 and 27, 1943, Trump looked through Tesla's files while the Navy microfilmed the documents it thought might be of interest. After two days of finding nothing of interest, Trump decided to look in Tesla's box at the Governor Clinton Hotel. Tesla had a $400 debt at the Governor Clinton Hotel. As collateral, Tesla offered them a working model of his weapon. Tesla delivered the model to the hotel clerk and warned him that the box would explode if opened by unauthorized staff.

The managers hurriedly left the storage room after remembering Tesla's stark warning that the package would explode if opened by an unauthorized person. The agents accompanying Trump also withdrew, leaving him to open the package on his own. The box was wrapped with brown paper and string. When he cut the string with his pocket knife and removed the paper, he saw that the box was made of polished wood. He took a deep breath and lifted the hinged lid to find that inside was just an old resistance box.

In his report, Trump concluded that there was no danger because his research was primarily hypothetical but did not contain any new, workable principles or methods for implementing them. The box called "Death Ray" was an idea that was primarily "speculative, philosophical, and promotional" in nature and contained no "sound, workable principles or methods." In short, a half-baked fantasy.

Tesla’s funeral

Tesla's funeral took place on January 12, 1943, in front of over two thousand people at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan, New York City. After the funeral, Tesla's body was taken to the Ferncliff Cemetery, where it was later cremated. The ashes were stored there until June 1957. The urn was transferred to Yugoslavia in 1957 and is now kept in the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade. This museum also houses a large part of his entire legacy.


Condolences came from many prominent figures of the time, including President Roosevelt and his wife, Vice President Henry A. Wallace, several Nobel Prize winners, and many others. On January 10, 1943, the Mayor of New York City, Fiorello La Guardia, read live on New York radio a eulogy written by Louis Adamic, while "Ave Maria" and "Tamo daleko" were played in the background.

Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's Eulogy to Nikola Tesla

 (*)“I have been honored and been asked to read a tribute to a great American, Nikola Tesla, written by another great American, Louis Adamic, both natives of what we know as Yugoslavia but coming from different parts. They were friends.

On last Thursday night here in our city of New York, a man who was 87 years of age died in his humble hotel room. His name was Nikola Tesla. He died in poverty, but he was one of the most useful and successful men who ever lived. His achievements were great and are becoming greater as time goes on. Nikola Tesla could have amassed hundreds of millions of dollars, could have become the richest man in the country, in the world, if he wished for riches. He didn’t. He did not care for anything, did not have time for anything that spelled success for too many people.

Nikola Tesla was a great humanitarian, a pure scientific genius, a poet in science. He did extraordinary amazing miraculous things during his life among us. He did them simply to serve mankind and for his services, he did not want anything. Money, he didn’t care for it. Honor, who was anybody to honor anybody else. That was his attitude. Gratitude, he did not expect or demand. Nikola Tesla did not care to be paid for anything he did for the human race. He simply functioned according to his natural genius which came to him in the land of his birth, Yugoslavia, as a son of his mother.

Now this extraordinary man is dead or so they say. The papers on Friday told he died, his body was found still on the bed in his little hotel room in this city and the newspapers publish obituaries and editorials summarizing his life and work and told of his personal habits and eccentricities. Tesla they say is dead. In a funeral parlor in this city there is all that is left of his person. The funeral services will be held on next Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 in the Cathedral of Saint John. People will come. Yes, many people, people from all walks of life, humble unknown people and people who are famous scientists and industrialists and others and then we’ll be all right. It is a customary thing to do, but Tesla is not dead.

Tesla is not really dead. Only his poor wasted body has been stilled. The real, the important part of Tesla lives in his achievement which is great, almost beyond calculation, an integral part of our civilization, of our daily lives, of our current war effort. Today, we, on this program, do not mourn Tesla. We do not honor him for we know that Nikola Tesla would not care for that. Why mourn Tesla? His life is a triumph. We are in the studio today just thinking of Tesla, talking of him among ourselves and to you who are listening to us, and we are playing some music and can sing a few songs which will think Nikola Tesla would have liked.

We celebrate his achievement on earth, his great triumph which is our triumph, the triumph of all the people of the world. We celebrate his contributions to our life, to the sum total of civilization and human potentialities to Americans everywhere which will be as permanent as man himself. We are talking about Nikola Tesla, celebrating the fact that we belong to the same species to which he belonged while he was among us. He is a feather in the cap of the whole human race and Yugoslavia and America can be proud of him.

A few years ago, a fellow scientist of Tesla, Dr. A.B. Baron, also an American, wrote about him in his book on the induction motor, the motor which owes its existence to Tesla and which, now, is in the very center of nearly everything that moves on wheels in this country. Mr. Baron said were we to eliminate from our industrial world the result of Tesla’s work, the wheels of industry would cease to turn and our electric trains and cars would stop, our towns would be dark, our mills and factories dead. So far reaching is his work that it has become the warp and whoop of industry. Should Tesla’s work be suddenly withdrawn, darkness would prevail and we would slump into darkness.

So it is true, Tesla is not dead. He is very much alive among us. Among us is a triumph of his life, his achievement which we celebrate here. We do not honor him. We are gathered here to feel this triumph of one human life and to share our feelings with you all.”

Mayor Fiorello La Guardia's Eulogy to Nikola Tesla on January 10, 1943. was broadcast over New York Radio.




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