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The partner of former Yankees and Mets pitcher David Cone has been accused in a lawsuit of starting a fire at the couple’s Manhattan apartment in a bid to land a role on “The Real Housewives of New York City.”
The blaze broke out inside Cone and partner Taja Abitbol’s 14th-floor pad at a luxury high-rise in Lincoln Square on Nov. 6, 2019 — the day before Abitbol was slated to appear on Tamron Hall’s ABC talk show.
The flames also significantly damaged the apartment of downstairs neighbor Daniel Rice, an Army vet and Purple Heart recipient, he claims in his suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Friday.
Rice claims that Abitbol, a real estate broker, used the fire to promote her upcoming TV appearance and “advance” her candidacy for the Bravo reality show.
“Abitbol’s desire for fame and notoriety is well-known,” the suit alleges.
The “Tamron Hall Show” Twitter account had posted on the day of the blaze that, “We’re talking to Taja Abitbol. She’s obsessed with astrology and recently didn’t think what her astrologists said would come true but it did.”
In her appearance on the show, Abitbol then explained how her astrologers told her she would move out of the apartment she has just moved into — a prediction that came true when she was forced to relocate to a hotel in the aftermath of the blaze, the suit states.
“Yesterday morning, I basically set the house on fire during Mercury retrograde and I had to move. I came here from my hotel room,” the filing says Abitbol told Hall.
She also explained on the show that she had her “candles burning during Mercury retrograde.”
Abitbol posted a photo of herself at the studio on Instagram with the caption, “What sign are you? I’m a double Aries with Leo Rising all fire … Tune in to @Tamronhallshow on ABC.”
The suit claims her post, which included ten fire emojis, “was an explicit reference to the fire in Unit 14B that damaged Unit 12G.”
Rice accused Abitbol and Cone of “deliberately, knowingly, intentionally and/or recklessly,” having “caused the fire … in order for Abitbol to have a story to discuss on the Tamron Hall Show and/or to advance Abitbol’s candidacy as a castmate for the Real Housewives of New York [City] television show, among other things.”
Abitbol, 50, tried to get onto “RHONY” at least four times, the suit claims, citing Page Six.
Rice — who is suing for at least $320,000 in damages — says he couldn’t move back into the unit at the West End Avenue address until this year.
The damage from the blaze forced him to carry out a “gut renovation” of the home, the court papers claim. He said during that time he was forced find “alternative temporary living arrangements.”
Rice claims the couple “negligently and wantonly left candles burning in Unit 14B which started a fire and caused significant damage to Unit 12G,” according to the filing.
The vet received a Purple Heart when he was injured by an improvised explosive device in 2005 after serving multiple tours in the Middle East.
He is currently serving as the Special Advisor to Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Valeriy Zaluzhnyy in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the court papers say.
Todd Shapiro, a rep for Abitbol, said the incident was ruled an accident by the fire department and any allegations that she caused the fire intentionally to further her career are “misguided and untrue.”
Shapiro also noted that Abitbol had already been paid by the insurance company for flooding caused by sprinklers.
“There was a defective candle that caused smoke and flame,” Abitbol told The Post. “The sprinklers immediately went off and there was no damage from a fire – that was clearly an accident.”
“The damage was caused by the building and their sprinklers because they were never able to shut them off. They had to break the sprinklers in order to get them to stop the water that caused a flood,” Abitbol said.
Abitbol’s other rep Brian Finnegan said, “Taja reached out to others in the building and feels horrible that they sustained property damages just like Taja did. Taja sustained hundreds of thousands in property damage due to the water and in essence reached out to make sure to make that others were OK.”
A working number could not be found for Cone, who retired from the MLB in 2003 and is currently a commentator for the Yankees on the YES Network and WPIX. Cone’s rep didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
The company that owned the unit Cone and Abitbol were renting did not immediately return a message left with the building.