NEW YORK (NBCWNBC) — A New York man is now the Oldest Man in the World.
At 111 1/4 years old, Alexander Imich attained the distinction when the previous record-holder died in Italy on April 24.
The Poland-born author and zoologist spends his days inside his apartment on New York City’s Upper West Side.
After blowing out the candles at his recent birthday celebration, Alex has earned himself the title of Oldest Man in the World — a distinction he honors with humor.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I simply didn’t die earlier.”
The 111-year-old spends his days surrounded by artwork painted by his late wife. He has a live-in home health aide and gets daily visits from good friends Trish Corbett and Michael Mannion, who are inspired by the supercentenarian’s curious mind.
“He has an enormous curiosity with other people,” said Mannion. “So when you come to visit Alex, he would want to know about you.”
Alex was born in Poland in February 1903, more than a year before NYC subway system opened and just months after the Wright Brothers flew an airplane.
He recalls the first time he saw one land.
“There was no place to land it, so it landed in a field,” said Alex.
He fled Poland when the Nazis took over in 1939. He ended up in a slave labor camp in Russia and eventually went back to Poland, where he got his Ph.D. in zoology.
“I like nature, all the animals,” said Alex.
After moving to the United States in 1951, he became a world-renowned author on parapsychology. He speaks five languages, and — while shrugging off his new title — he credits good genes, athletics and a minimal diet to his longevity.
“I was not drinking no alcohol,” said Alex.
If you think 111 is old, there are actually 66 women in the world who outdate Alex. The oldest: a 116-year-old woman from Japan.