Alexander Imich, a 111-year-old Polish immigrant and Soviet gulag survivor who was recently certified as the world's oldest man, died on Sunday in New York City, multiple reports say.
Imich was pronounced the world's oldest living man in April by the Gerontology Research Group after the previous record-holder, Arturo Licata, died just days before his 112th birthday.
“Not like it’s the Nobel Prize," Imich told the New York Times then. “I never thought I’d be that old.”
How did he do it? “I don’t know, I simply didn’t die earlier,” Imich joked last month in an interview with NBC. “I have no idea how this happened.”
He did joke to the Times that not having children might have helped, as well as "good genes."
But the supercentenarian's health had been in decline in recent weeks. His niece, Karen Bogen, told the Associated Press that when she visited Imich a day earlier, he didn't recognize her.
Imich was born on Feb. 4, 1903, in Poland, and grew up in Czestochowa in southern Poland. He and his second wife, Wela, a painter and psychotherapist, immigrated to Waterbury, Conn., in 1951. Imich moved to New York in 1986 after Wela's death.
In his late 20s, the Times reports, he "grew fascinated with a Polish medium who was known as Matylda S., a doctor’s widow gaining renown for séances that reportedly called up the dead." He became a scholar of the occult, eventually editing an anthology — “Incredible Tales of the Paranormal: Documented Accounts of Poltergeist, Levitations, Phantoms, and Other Phenomena" — that was published in 1995, when Imich was 92.
Sakari Momoi, a 111-year-old Japanese man born just one day after Imich, is now believed to be the world's oldest man, but officials first must verify his age.
According to the Gerontology Research Group, there are 66 living women older than Momoi, including a Japanese woman, Misao Okawa, who is 116.