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Thursday, September 24, 2009

He could have been the last Caliph

Ertugrul Osman, who might have ruled the Ottoman empire from a palace in Istanbul, but instead spent most of his life in a walk-up apartment in Manhattan, died Wednesday night in Istanbul. He was 97.

Mr. Osman was a descendant of Osman I, the Anatolian ruler who in 1299 established the kingdom that eventually controlled parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Mr. Osman would have eventually become the Sultan but for the establishment of the Turkish Republic, proclaimed in 1923.

For the last 64 years, Mr. Osman — formally His Imperial Highness Prince Ertugrul Osman — and his wife, a niece of a former Afghan king, lived in a rent-controlled apartment in a four-story building on Lexington Avenue in the East 70s. At one time they kept 12 dogs in their home, a two-bedroom unit up a narrow, dim stairway, and enlisted neighborhood children to walk them.


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