Nicola Tesla died penniless

Tesla's Death, New York Times 1943

Tesla died alone

Tesla died of heart failure at the Hotel New Yorker alone, sometime between the evening of January 5 and the morning of January 8, 1943. Though selling its AC power patents, Tesla was essentially penniless and died in substantial debt. At the time of his death, Tesla had been working on some form of Teleforce weapon, or Death Ray, the secrets of which he had offered the US Department of War on the morning of January 5th.

Immediately after his death was announced, the Federal Bureau of Investigation commissioned the Office of Alien Property to take possession of Tesla's papers and property, despite his US citizenship. All of Tesla's personal belongings were seized on the recommendation of presidential advisors. J. Edgar Hoover declared the case "secret" because of the nature of Tesla's inventions and patents.

Tesla's Serbian Orthodox family and the Yugoslav embassy struggled with American authorities to get these items after Tesla's death, as some of Tesla's research may be significant.

Tesla funeral on January 12, 1943. Tesla coffin in St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City covered with flags of the United States and Yugoslavia

Eventually Tesla's nephew Sava Kosanovich took possession of some of his personal effects (which are now housed in the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia). Tesla's funeral took place on January 12, 1943 at St. John the Divine Cathedral in Manhattan, New York City. Tesla always denied claims that Marconi Invented radio. An ongoing legal battle was ruled in his favor after his death. This decision was based on the fact that preliminary work had already been done before the Marconi patent was established.

At the time, the United States Army was involved in a patent infringement lawsuit with Marconi relating to radio, which resulted in the Tesla government granting the patent to set aside any claims Marconi would have replaced. In 1976, a bronze statue of Tesla was placed at Niagara Falls. Perhaps because of Tesla's personal eccentricity and the dramatic nature of his demonstrations, conspiracy theories exist about the applications of his work.

The common Hollywood stereotype of the "mad scientist" reflects Tesla's real-life personality, or at least a caricature of it - which may not be a coincidence when you consider that many of the earliest such films (including the first version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein) were produced by Tesla's old rival, Thomas Edison. There are at least two films that describe Tesla's life.

In the first television series, Tesla was portrayed by the Serbian actor Rade Šerbedžija. In 1980 Orson Welles produced a Yugoslav film called "Tajna Nikole Tesle" (The Secret of Nikola Tesla).

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