Overview

Bernard (Bernie) Madoff was an American investment advisor and financier. He pleaded guilty to operating a massive Ponzi scheme, arguably, the largest financial fraud in recorded history.  In 1960, he founded a wealth management company, BLMIS, and served as its authoritative chairman until his arrest on December 11, 2008.  He was sentenced to 150 years in prison, June 29 2009.  Employed at the firm were his wife, Ruth, and sons Andrew and Mark (Fig. 1).  Other family members included his younger brother, Peter Madoff, the Chief Compliance Officer. Peter was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Mark committed suicide two years following his father’s arrest.  Andrew died of lymphoma on September 3, 2014 but was under criminal investigation.  Evidence indicates all were complicit in the epic fraud.

Fig. 1. Bernie with Mark and Andrew

Admitting that his business was an immense Ponzi scheme which began in the early 1990s Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies on March 12, 2009. Others believe it was corrupt from its inception.  Almost $65-billion was reportedly embezzled. Overseeing all claims in connection with the Madoff fraud is Irving Pickard. This SPIC-appointed (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) trustee, believes that Madoff has led a Ponzi scheme for most of his business existence – about 40 years – inflicting an estimated $20 billion in actual losses on investors. [1],[2],[3]

Bernie is a rather colorful character given to an incurable willingness to showcase his wealth. Estimates ranged from $0.8 to 1.3 billion.  His assets included a private jet, yachts, and loans to family members. Other valuable assets were four princely homes located in prized locations – an apartment in Manhattan, a mansion in Long Island,[4]  one in Palm Beach, and a seaside villa at the Cote d’Azur, France.  Madoff estimated his Manhattan apartment was worth $7 million, but by mid-2013 it was listed for $17.5 million.  The West Palm Beach mansion is now valued at $11 million. Clearly, infamy has its value. [5],[6],[7],[8]


Bernie’s Assets

Madoff’s Penthouse apartment in Manhattan is a fantasy world. With over 4,000 square feet of living room space, the ritzy apartment located on prime real estate boasts three bedrooms, four-and-a-half-baths and four marble fireplaces. The high ceilings are embroidered with wood moldings while the hardwood floors are tastefully designed in a herringbone pattern. Located on the 12th floor are the principal rooms fitted with Palladian windows. The wraparound terrace permits an eye-popping view of Central Park whereas the airy designer kitchen with white cabinets contains an array of stainless-steel appliances, stainless counters, ceramic tiled floors and a roomy pantry.  A wide hallway leading to the kitchen houses a bar with glass cabinets and a marble countertop.  From the 12th floor, an elliptical stairway provides easy access to the living room, one floor below.  The master bedroom has a fireplace set in marble, and two his-and-hers spacious closets and bathrooms.  Hers is laid out in white marble, has a Jacuzzi and an enclosed glass shower stall.  His is lined entirely with black granite.  The guest room has an ensuite, bath and two closets while the third bedroom is outfitted with a fireplace, carved marble cherubs and built-in bookcases. Included in the bedroom fixtures are 4-poster beds topped with ruffles.  The lounge is artistically decked out with posh Persian rugs, antiques furniture, Greek and Egyptian statues and treasured paintings. [9],[10],[11]


The high-priced silverware in the Manhattan apartment was appraised at $65,000.  Together with the prized artwork and antique furniture, the contents were valued at $10 million.  Among his 61-piece art collection is a Picasso depicting a black bull and a set of six bull lithographs by Roy Lichtenstein.  Also included is a small Matisse drawing of a woman’s head.[12]

The Madoffs are fond of their children and grandchildren.  The family spent weekends at the Hamptons on Long Island in their sprawling beach front mansion with 5 bedrooms on 1.2 acres of deliciously landscaped property.[13i]  Their French villa located at Cap d’Antibes lies in the Côte d’Azur, between Cannes and Nice.  A furnished 3-bedroom dwelling with a view of the sparkling sea is worth about $1.6 million.  Basking in the sun and the sea during the summer, the Madoffs ecstatically luxuriated in the company of their adoring grandchildren.[14]

During the winter, they retreat to their manor in West Palm Beach (Fig.2).  The property is festooned with flowers and sports an irresistible swimming pool.  This imposing mansion is amply equipped with 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms and a wooden deck overlooking the sea.  It accommodates 8,753 square feet of living space and sits on a half-acre lot overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.[15],[16],[17]


Fig. 2. West Palm Beach Mansion

Bernie’s Monogrammed Underwear

Madoff was a neurotic shopaholic with a penchant for designer wear.  In this regard, he was recklessly prodigal. To burnish their images in London, Bernie and Ruth walked with their personal designers.  At least twice per year, he would visit Savile Row and invite Kilgour tailors to his office for suit measurements. Defying rational thought, Bernie reputedly owned twenty-five suits of each color – 25 blue, 25 grey, 25 black – all custom made from world famous tailoring establishment – Kilgour on Savile Row, London.[18],[19]  Savile Row seems to have an attraction for big time crooks.  Bruce Reynolds, of the Great Train Robbery fame, visited these stores frequently.  He too lived to regret his self-indulgent ways.  Always cognizant of his appearance, Bernie flashed his pricey watches.[20]  He frequented Cartier, Chanel and Trillion Men’s clothing shop where his handpicked shirts and cashmere sweaters ran over a $1,000 each. [21],[22]

Always impeccably dressed, his clothes precisely fitted and classily styled.  He flashed silk ties from Hermes, possibly hinting at his fraudster wits.  Shirts were complemented with color-coordinated French silk knot cuff links.[23]  Not modest by any means, the name Madoff was emblazoned prominently in gold lettering on his New York Mets jacket.  Stacks of shirts designed by Ascot Chang of Central Park South, New York, decorated his clothes closet.[24],[25]

Catering to the affluent, Worth Avenue is one of the richest places in the US. It boasts shops like Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hermes and Cartier.  In the shops at Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Bernie frequently spent $2,000 for a pair of fine-textured cashmere wool pants.[26], [27]

Madoff always wore highly buffed shoes.  He owned more than he could wear.  With a shoe fetish rivaling Imelda Marcos, Madoff’s closet housed hundreds of pairs of marginally varying pairs of shoes.  In preparation for auction, trustees found over 84 pairs of unworn shoes. From the top down to his socks, bedroom slippers and underwear were monogrammed. [28],[29i],[30]

Bernard Madoff’s profane passion for high-end watches is legendary. He owned over 40 watches, ranging from Rolexes to a Piaget brands. From Piccadilly shopping district he collected watches to complement his wedding bands.[31]    In addition to Rolexes and other treasurable watches were diamond-encrusted pieces.[32],[33] Unfortunately, his personal and pricey items went for an insulting fraction of the cost under the auctioneers’ hammer.  Among the personal items auctioned off were hundreds of pairs of shoes, cashmere sweaters, monogrammed underwear and black velveteen slippers lined with pink fabric (Fig. 3). [34],[35]


Fig. 3. His Monogrammed Slippers

Ruth Madoff’s Excesses

Fig. 4 Ruth Madoff

While in London, personal designers took charge of sprucing the images and egos of Bernie’s and Ruth (Fig. 4) with elegance only affordable to the affluent.  Ruth relished the flair of Fleet Street tailors and Boots brand face cream.[36] An AmEx statement showed a single shopping outing that included a $2,001 purchase by Ruth Madoff at a Giorgio Armani boutique in Paris.  Another for $1,214, at a Diane Firsten shop in Cincinnati, a week later.  Of the $100,121.99 bill from January 23 2008, Ruth’s unmatched shopping prowess was on grand display: she burnt up $29,888 on designer clothes, high end furs and golf shoes.[37],[38],[39] Among some of Ruth’s auctioned treasures were antique diamond rings, Edwardian bracelets, earrings, emeralds, a rope of 320 pearls and dozens of wristwatches detailed with diamonds (Fig. 5). At one of the many auctions initiated by Irving Picard to recover funds from the Madoff investment scandal, Ruth Madoff’s bejeweled 10.5-carat diamond engagement ring set in platinum received a bid of $550,000, whereas a pair of her diamond earrings fetched a handsome $135,000.40],[41] A Rolex watch with an oyster band went for $40,000, disappointingly less than the estimated auction price.  A number of rare Rolex watches were also on display. Other jewelry being auctioned to compensate defrauded victims included diamond broaches, a diamond studded watch from Tiffany & Co. and expensive fountains pens.[42],[43]  Snippets of Ruth’s pretentious exhibition of obscene wealth were her cashmere sweater sets reportedly worth thousands.  Her hair was styled at Frédéric Fekkai, a chic salon in New York.  Her oversized Hermes Birkin handbag that dangled casually from her arms was estimated at $7,500 and no one has provided a cost-estimate of her crocodile skin purse. [44],[45]  Despite claims to the contrary, it seems that Ruth Madoff was not shy about flaunting her unearned wealth. Celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick who have lost millions in Madoff’s schemes would surely cringe at her decadent lifestyle.



Fig. 5. Only Afforded by the Rich and Infamous

Amusement: Laziness by another name

For the wealthy, expensive toys are emblems of inflated egos.  Bernie owned several boats. With some minor variations, they are all called Bull.  The combined worth of two exceeded $11.5 million.  According to court papers, they served no business purpose.  Of his herd, the 88-foot Arno Leopard super yacht moored in the South of France was the most expensive, valued at $7.0 million (Fig. 6).  This super yacht built to Madoff’s specification is equipped with two engines each capable of generating over 2,000 horsepower.  In its class, it is one of the fastest motor yachts ever built.  It amply accommodates three lavish cabins, each having a private bath.  In addition, there are private quarters for the three-member crew.  The trustee’s investigation has concluded that Madoff’s boat captain, maid and house-sitter in Florida were on his firm’s payroll but were of no business relevance. [46],[47],[48],[49],[50],[51] A 55-foot yacht with a high-flying bridge was part of the herd.  Bernie also had a 38-foot rumrunner boat design called Sitting Bull and another open cabin boat he christened Little Bull.[52],[53] The pleasure of owing several boats is not an inexpensive affair – something only affordable by the superrich. While the skippers of the super yacht and the Florida Bull earned $5,600 and $5,250 a month respectively, another $5,000 went to the Montauk Yacht Club and $471,000 went to a marina in Long Island. The slip where the French-designed boat was moored was worth $1.5 million.  Add to that $50,000 more: the annual fee for the maintenance of this exquisite craft.  No doubt, these Bulls were expensive pieces of hardware. [54],[55],[56],[57],[58],[59] In 2007, Madoff became the co-owner of a deluxe $24-million-custom-designed-Brazilian-jet bedecked in hues of black and grey, the color scheme of his office. It gets better.


Fig. 6 One of his many Bulls

Judging from the memberships in golf-clubs, it is safe to say Ruth and Bernie were golfing enthusiasts.  Between 1996 and 2008  they paid $948,000 for memberships in four different country clubs including Palm Beach Country Club with an initiation fee exceeding $200,000.  The Fresh Meadows Country Club in Long Island, where Bernie  was a member, is the exclusive domain of affluence. Some of his golf clubs bore the insignia of Fresh Meadows. [60],[61]],[62],[63],[64]


Vacations were the Vocation

Bernie seemed to travel constantly with Ruth.  Indeed, half the time they were out of town. His was an enchanted life.  He roamed Europe, New York, Bermuda, Africa, the Cayman Islands, Singapore, Middle East, Tokyo, Spain, North and South America. Globetrotting was a pedestrian affair being the proud owner of a private jet and several yachts.[65]

For the Madoffs, vacations were their vocation, or so it seems. Bernie was known to globe-trot, often mixing business with pleasure.  Frittering away their profligate life on golfing excursions was just one way the Madoffs engaged in recreational pursuits.  Of course, there were others.  According to one source, Bernie and Ruth regularly ventured far afield on business trips and generously rewarded themselves with few fun-filled days at the end of each trip.  On these jaunts, they traveled first class, overnighted at ritzy hotels and dined in a style. Most their summers were spent blissfully wallowing in the affection of their frolicking grandchildren in a milieu of sun, sand and surf.[66]  In the summer of 2007, Bernie and Ruth spent months in south France golfing and enjoying the rolling ripples of the Cote d’ Azure from the confines of their super yacht (Fig. 7).  In the US, they summered in Long Beach and wintered in Palm Beach amidst tropical greenery, flaming bougainvillea and sprawling ficuses. Considering that it backed into the Atlantic, the sparkling swimming pool in the backyard at the Palm Beach mansion served as a rude symbol of Madoff’s obscene wealth.   Not one to miss a financial opportunity, Bernie was a regular attendee at Interbourse[67] where business and pleasure exquisitely mingled.[68],[69],[70],[71],[72],[73] To extract more free time, Bernie and Peter organized special ski trips like the 2004-trip to Switzerland; there they attended a weeklong event sponsored by the SWX Swiss Exchange and socialize with businessmen from around the globe.[74],[75]


Fig. 7. Cote d’ Azure: a playground for the superrich

At his winter retreat in Palm Beach, Bernie played golf, sailed and shopped.  His Palm Beach Country Club membership, which, among other amenities offered golfing, spa facilities, a swimming pool, gourmet restaurants and tennis courts.[76] Fine dining, extended vacations, downhill skiing and fishing trips were only some of the more pleasurable ways Bernie reveled in facile wealth.[77],[78]

Because his reputation in financial wizardry had a global dimension, he was frequently invited to private clubs in Los Angeles, to elite parties in Palm Beach, and to exclusive Interbourse events in Switzerland and other parts of Europe.  When in London he stayed at Lanesborough Hotel – one of the most expensive in the world.  A night in this earthly paradise can cost as much as £18,000.  In Paris, Bernie and Ruth, stayed at the Plaza Athenee, located near the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower.[79],[80]

Fine Dining

Dining at elegant restaurants was an unconcealed passion; besides, Bernie was accorded the royal treatment.  In New York, he dined at upscale restaurants like Michael’s, Bice, the Mondrian, Essex House, Lespinasse and Aquavit.  The latter was rated 9th best restaurant in New York in 2006.  Two favorites were the Park Lane Hotel and Shun Lee Palace – a classy Chinese restaurant located in New York City where 70% of the clientele is Jewish. For a change of scenery, Bernie lunched at Willard Intercontinental Hotel, situated steps from the White House. [81],[82],[83],84],[85,[86] At the Palm Restaurant in East Hampton, where Madoff had been a regular patron for 20 years, he had exclusive seating.  Pandering to his wishes, an upfront table accorded him a panoramic view.[87]  Among other high-end restaurants frequented by the Madoffs were the lavish Per Se in Manhattan, Outback Steakhouse and Bobby Vans Steakhouse.[88] A bill of purchases by the Madoff clan screams of immoderation.  At Jackson Hole Mountain resort – a ski resort in Wyoming- they rang up a tab of $2,879 for one meal.  His own parties were a lavish affair.  Every summer, Madoff hosted a party for his staff and associates. A crowd of about 400 wined and dined on an unending supply of oysters, lobster, fillet steak and complimentary drinks.  Business associates were flown in first class from London.[89]

Unprecedented Extravagance

The Madoffs orgiastic spending habits were no doubt genetic.  Peter Madoff racked up charges $1,564 for a meal at Bistro Chez Jean in Palm Beach and $441 at a gourmet bagel shop.  Implausible as it may sound, Mark Madoff reportedly blew $8,400 for one night at Hotel Esperanza in Santa Monica.  But there is more which adds weight to the wildly extravagant spending character of Mark.  On a ski trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he reportedly paid $2,879 for a meal at Picas where the usual dietary fare costs a mere $12.00. [90]  In deference to Mark, it should be noted that Stephanie Mack – Mark’s widow – has described her late husband as being frugally responsible: he hated to spend money unnecessarily and didn’t have lavish taste.[91]


Incarceration

Despite the dizzying wealth and power amassed over an epic orgy of criminal activity, Bernie has been unable to outrun the phantom of misdeeds tailing him.  The fear of discovery relentlessly haunted his dreams.  So much so, that behind the cold prison walls Bernie Madoff felt an eerie sense of relief knowing it was all over.  There he lives with the thought of being unable to escape the unchanging routine of incarcerated life – unable to enjoy the world of wealth, wine and women.  If there exists a scintilla of mercy in imprisonment he mused, is that his mind is free to wander aimlessly.  He has no decisions to make and no longer in control of his designing life.[92]  His solace resides in one solitary fact: the limits of freedom are defined by his intellect, not the circumscribing prison walls.  If he can adopt that stoic philosophy he can live freely within the confines of his mind.  Chances are, he can’t; that would require the discipline of a Zen master.

After his arrest, Bernie Madoff was held in the Manhattan Federal Penitentiary known as 10-South.  Reputed for its austere conditions, it drove hardened criminals into ranting lunatics.  For a man used to a pampered existence, now caged and shackled, this must have surpassed his worst nightmares.  The glaring 24-hours-a-day flood lights robbed the inmates of any privacy. Every move is embarrassingly captured.  Madoff was only allowed an hour a day outside his 8-by-8-foot cage – a sharp contrast of the 4,000 sq. ft. he was accustomed to.  The opaque windows obscured natural lighting and food was slipped through a slit in a stainless-steel door.  His steel cage is uncomfortably cool in winter and blisteringly hot in the summer.  The conditions are dehumanizing and the absence of human interaction intensifies the solitary existence.[93] For a man so pleasured by opulence this must have represented the hell of the religious texts.  Ensconced in his cell, Madoff’s mind is visited by ghastly images as he pondered the slumberous rhythms of prison routine. To some, he appeared zombie-like, morose and distant.  To be reduced to such subhuman existence must have extinguished any spark of hope he may have entertained.  The thought is itself suicidal.

But his lot has improved marginally.  Since his transfer to a Federal Correctional Institute he is known to watch games.  As he aimlessly strolls the corridors at nights, ever mindful that this repetitive routine will never improve.[94] Unlike the millions he had grown accustomed to, he is now given a pittance of less than $170 a month.  Although he seeks out small pleasures, he is often pensive staring off in the distance and socially remote.  While prisoners have the privilege of using the phone for 15-minute intervals with a limit of up to 300 minutes a month, Madoff claims he does not.  I don’t use the phone, hardly at all, said Madoff.  I don’t have anyone to talk to (Fig 9, 10, 11).[95]

Ostracism

Sad it is. Bernie was his family’s patriarch.  As he sat sulkily contemplating his encaged existence it must be agonizing to entertain that those closest to him – Andrew, Peter, and his niece – who once lived royally under his helmsmanship, had abandoned him.[96]  The profound isolation must be mind-shattering. During his trial and sentencing, Madoff found himself distressingly alone, despite being a gregarious family man with multitude of friends and fawning associates.  The convulsive tremor of discontent he has generated within his own clan was foreseeable.  But not seeing members if his immediate family and aware of the spleen directed towards him, has to be psychologically devastating.  Worse than the barbed wire fences, unscalable walls, prison guards, was his wife’s rejection. The wife of 50 years, has deserted too.  Rationalizing the abandonment, he blamed it on the distance to travel.  His dear wife used to visit weekly and they chatted by phone daily, he claimed.  However, the 12-hour drive plus the overnight stay exceeded her endurance, she stopped.  The harsh truth: he was not worth it. Being separated from his family has mortally wounded his dignity severely diminishing his inherent self-worth.  Responding to the wishes of Andrew, Ruth refused contacts with Bernie.  She has not spoken to him, since Mark’s suicide, Dec. 11, 2010 – the second anniversary of Bernie surrendering to authorities.  Ruth not communicating is the hardest thing.  Ruth doesn’t hate me. She has no-one.  It’s not fair to her.  She lost her first son, he lamented to ABC’s Barbara Walters from prison. 

Two years after Bernie Madoff was charged, Mark Madoff, unable to face the social ostracism, hanged himself while his infant son lay asleep nearby. But the merciless twisting of fate’s dagger into his mental bowels continues to agonize.  Unable to deal with her husband’s death, Mark’s widow, Stephanie Madoff Mack, has bitterly denounced Bernie.  She has squarely ascribed responsibility for Mark’s passing solely to him. The very thought of Bernie fills her with rabid rage insisting that she would spit in his face if she meets him.  Andrew also distanced himself too.  Other than an occasional visit from the daughters of his wife’s niece, no one else calls or visits. [97],[98],[99],[100],[101] None of his family, friends or associates attended his sentencing, he stood there silent and…. alone: the abandonment was absolute.  His family loathes him and his marriage wanting.[103]  He lived luxuriously on other people’s means.  His schemes were studiously designed to ensure he lived effortlessly. Ironically, in prison he is doing just that. A life of unwarranted ease is paid for in coins of misery. Of those he must have an endless supply for Bernie is paying in ways he is incapable of imagining.  The pain of Mark which drove his head into that suicidal noose is likely being experienced by Bernie as well.  We just don’t know.

Though the abyss of desolation into which Mr. Madoff has fallen is enough to annihilate his spirit, he survives – only he knows how.  According to the sentencing Judge, Denny Chin, although thousands had written, not a single letter of support came for Mr. Madoff – not his sons, not his wife, not his brother, neither his girlfriends nor his colleagues.  Not a single mitigating letter of support! This nonexistent support was so compelling, it forced the honorable judge to comment: The absence of such support is telling.[102]

In summing up his father’s soulless behavior, Mark observed before passing on:  My own father has stolen my life from me.  It’s pain that is beyond description.  The business that I spent twenty-three years building gone, I am unemployed, my livelihood destroyed, and my family will forever live with the shame of what my father has done. There are so many victims of my father’s fraud, so many horrible stories. How do I explain to my children what I do not understand myself?[104]

The Family


Undeserved happiness has its consequences. Bernie is not alone.  Circumstantial evidence suggests that Ruth Madoff actively participated in the malignant schemes that terminally devastated the lives of thousands while she luxuriated in the end-products of fraud.[105]  However inconsequential Ruth Madoff’s role may appear, the financial train wreck engineered by this couple, has not only ruined them, but rendered untold agony to their family. They are not all innocent – far from it.  The facts indicate that Ruth is suffering the direct consequences of the barbaric transactions of BLMIS in which she participated.  She is currently paying a hefty price for the unmerited pleasure enjoyed over the years, for just showing up.  The loss of her husband and her sons are but two painful examples.  But she has also lost a life of abundance.  In return, she has gained the public’s scorn. So engulfed in the shame of the circumstances, she finds it difficult to even venture out.

Her property loss alone is eye-popping.  She had to forfeit the $7-million dollar apartment in New York, the property in Palm Beach, the villa in Cap d’Antibes,[106] the beach House mansion in the Hamptons, the Mercedes, the Russian sable, the Steinway piano and countless pieces of jewelry.  Having already surrendered more than $80-million, she is being hotly pursued by trustee Irving Pickard for close to 45 million, including $2.5 million she is legally entitled to keep.  In the eyes of the SPIC trustees, it is compensation she supposedly received from BLMIS without expending any effort.  For decades Mrs. Madoff lived a life of splendor using the money of BLMIS’s customers.  Regardless of whether or not Mrs. Madoff knew of the fraud her husband perpetrated at BLMIS,…….she received tens of millions of dollars from BLMIS for which BLMIS received no corresponding benefit or value and to which Mrs. Madoff had no good faith basis to believe she was entitled, Irving Pickard alleges in a suit in which she is the respondent. Although she is no longer hounded criminally, she is financial crushed and has been ordered report every item of expenditure over $100 to a bankruptcy trustee. [107],[108],[109,[110]

But her financial miseries pale in comparison to her communal woes.  Now a social pariah, she is shunned by former associates. The florist who arranged the décor of her husband’s annual corporate party has refused her business.  Even her sons, Mark and Andrew, were prohibited from contacting her.  As a result, she was unable to see her grandchildren.[111]  The exclusive Manhattan restaurants she frequented have spurned her patronage.  At the Bella Blu, where she dined frequently over the years, she became persona non grata.  The pricey upscale hair salon in Midtown East, where she had been a regular patron for at least 10 years having her scalp pampered and hair neatly coiffured, has rejected her business. The salon managers have declined her request to discreetly dispatch a stylist to her apartment.  In the eyes of the proprietors, their image would be irreparably tarnished by association with Ruth Madoff.  By initially standing with Bernie, Ruth cut herself off from her family and snubbed by life-long friends.[112]

More than just considerable amounts of money, Andrew and Mark did lose their social status, sense of security, their sense of dignity, and promises of a dazzling future in the world of finance.  Instead they were ostracized, slandered, libeled, sued and threatened.  Their father had enmeshed the image of the family in an inextricable web of shameless notoriety.[113]  So disintegrated was the fabric of familial ties that the sons who had been major beneficiaries of the father’s largesse had angrily turned on, and turned in, their father to enforcement authorities.  Mark and Andrew were counseled to cease communication with Bernie; he was no longer a presence in their lives.  Since Bernie Madoff’s arrest, neither Mark nor Andrew has had a relationship with either parent.  So acutely distressed was Mark’s wife over the outrageous affair that she changed her name and her children’s surname name to Mack.  Understandably, Bernie was disconsolate and Ruth was distraught and upset at the tragic death of Mark.  Unconscionable as it may sound, they were prohibited from attending Mark’s funeral.[114],[115],[116]

Peter Madoff, the Chief Compliance Officer of BLAMIS, held that position for over forty years (Fig 12).  As the compliance officer, Peter often signed many weeks of compliance reports at a time, purposely changing pens to mislead the reader into believing they were signed at different intervals.  To avoid requisite taxes, Peter Madoff pleaded guilty to squirreling away millions of dollars from the prying eyes of the Internal Revenue Service.  He was ordered to surrender his assets to the government including cash, homes, cars and a Rolex watch.  A settlement reached with Peter’s family demanded that his wife, his daughter, and other family members forfeit their assets as well.  On June 29, 2012, Peter pleaded guilty to several indictments and was awarded a 10-year in prison sentence on December 20, 2012, for his role in the despicable Ponzi scheme.[117]


Fig. 12. Peter Madoff

Peter owned two homes – one in Long Island New York and another in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Their combined value, around $9-million.  The title of the Florida home was transferred to his wife Marion about 10 months after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation of BLMIS was initiated.[118] I let the reader ponder the motive behind the action.

In spite of being scorned yet violating legally imposed restrictions, Bernie tried to connect with his estranged family. He did so by secretly mailing them millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry and other items of value.  The prevailing belief is that Madoff was surreptitiously hoping to protect the residues his ill-gotten wealth from the octopus-like tentacles of Irving Pickard. Despite the pain his misguided efforts had inflicted, apparently Bernie did not learn. That greed can transform intelligent men into blundering buffoons defies comprehension. His efforts amounted to naught.[119] 


Bernie Broke the Record and Himself

If such a book existed, Bernie Madoff would have earned the top place in the Guinness Book of Financial Notoriety.  Over $64 billion dollars – the highest ever recorded – he reportedly swindled.  The span of time it took to perpetrate the heinous crime is itself momentous – up to forty years. Another record! Judging by the numbers of investors he financially savaged, the scheme can only be characterized as a monumental fraud: over 4,000 direct BLMIS investors and thousands more third-party investors.  SEC investigators also spoke of a fraud that appears to be of epic proportions.  He did admit to have lived a tormented life because of the shame inflicted on his family; that he stole remorselessly for over 20 years.  In the process he destroyed himself, his loved ones, his countless associates and his faithful investors. [120],[121],[122]


No Evidence of Effort

Reportedly, the Madoffs were a hard-working family.[123]  Maybe some were; but surely not Bernard and Ruth Madoff.  In consideration of Bernie’s extracurricular activities that claim strains the limits of credibility.  As his paramour, Sheryl Weinstein, indicated Bernie was adept at womanizing.  She should know.  He was out of town more than half the time presumably on business after which he took short vacations at exotic places.  Up to two months of his summers were spent in the south of France relaxing and relishing its cuisine.  His several memberships in exclusively rich country clubs suggest a pleasurable mindset.  Be it terrestrial or marine, there were no territorial boundaries to his self-indulgent aspirations.  Having not one, but several pleasure crafts, circumstantially indicate an epicurean lifestyle.  His frequent presence on the ski slopes of Wyoming and Switzerland is also revealing and so is the fact that he and his wife were avid golfers – a voraciously time-consuming activity.  Of his four homes, three were located near water and away from his place of business – apparently nothing but pleasure retreats.  To relieve his pent-up fervor, he had massages a couple times per week.  For his overworked hands and feet, he needed regular manicures and pedicures; to soothe his feverish brain, he had scalp massages and hair-cuts at overpriced salons. To release the pressure in his scrotum, Bernie kept confidential paramours in cities he frequented. [124],[125] And yes, there is one more tidbit which defies credibility.  Ruth and Bernie went to the movies almost every day after work, says daughter-in-law Stephanie Mack.[126]  In view of the multitude of recreational activities – the dinners, the parties, the women, the travels, the vacations and the movies,   – the effort devoted to meaningful work would appear nominal.  He lacked a social conscience.  He lived a storied existence. His vessel of deceptions, so over-weighted with financial bull, foundered against the cold rock of entropic reality.  Because of his unbridled greed, he lost his family, his friends, his associates, his investors and his life.

It is easy to shred the character of the Madoffs.  Indeed, it has become fashionable.  Nothing of significance mentioned herein, has not been reported.  The object was not to blindside the reputation of the Madoffs.  They did not need anyone’s help.  Rather, the aim was to demonstrate but one singular fact: that a pleasurable lifestyle must be proportionate to the expenditure of effort needed to purchase that modus vivendi.  Failure to do so consigns one to a tryst with catastrophe. The unfolding saga of Bernard Madoff is proof adequate.

Excerpted from The Eloquence of Effort. https://www.amazon.com/Eloquence-Effort-Beware-Least-Resistance/dp/0995344000


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