Bintel Blog

Madoff Décor: 'Queens Baroque' at Home; Austere at the Office

By Nadja Spiegelman

  • Print
  • Share Share

Last week’s color photographs of Hitler’s home got us wondering: Do all dictators have awful taste? North Korea’s Kim Jong Il is well known for his gaudiness and these paintings from Saddam Hussein’s collection of fantasy art look like they’ve been rescued from beneath the bed of a teenage video game aficionado.

And now there’s a fourth man to add to our list: Bernie Madoff. Sure, he’s no dictator, but we wouldn’t be the first — or the second or third, for that matter — to compare him to Hitler. And, to be fair, his decorating skills are slightly better. But these New York Daily News photos of the inside of the Madoff’s Upper East Side duplex prove that while Bernie’s no Saddam, he’s definitely no Martha Stewart either (although they do have the jail thing in common).

Indeed, an article that ran in the Forward in December describes Michael Skakun and Ken Libo’s visit to the Madoff’s apartment five years ago. “Queens High Baroque,” they recalled whispering to each other as they stepped into the apartment, which they described like this:

The ample Madoff foyer and living room burst with what appeared to us as classical knockoffs, the regal effect spoiled by overexertion. Gold sconces lined the stenciled wallpaper, a Napoleonic-style desk stood to the side, and the Greek and Egyptian statues vied with each other to set a mood of antique decorum. Arabesque-styled Central Asian rugs beguiled our vision with looping patterns and impressive symmetries, further softening our footfalls.

It seems that, when it came to decorating, Madoff kept his home life separate from his work. An article in The Daily Mall describes his preferred office décor. The article quotes the manager of Madoff’s London office, Julia Fenwick, as saying:

The London office had to resemble as closely as possible the New York office — grey walls, grey carpets, black trim, black cupboards. Everything was grey and black. On the occasions he visited London, we’d spend days before his arrival leveling the blinds, making sure the computer screens were an identical height, lining every picture up straight. No paper was allowed on the desks.

Grey, black and austere is a far cry from the frilly and overwrought perfectionism of the Madoff’s New York penthouse. Perhaps Susan Blumenfeld, Madoff’s personal interior designer, is to thank for the disparate decorating styles. Writes the Daily Mail:

According to Mrs Fenwick, Madoff was often accompanied by his interior designer, Susan Blumenfeld, president of New York firm SBI Design, who even approved his wife’s clothes.

A quick Internet search for Susan Blumenfeld reveals the Edward and Susan Blumenfeld Foundation is on the long list of foundations that found themselves victims of Madoff’s scam. Their foundation’s estimated exposure: $2,539,993.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Interior Design, Bernard Madoff

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Selma. Nearly 50 years ago it was violent Selma, impossibly racist Selma, site of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful civil rights marchers made their first attempt to cross the Pettus Street Bridge on the way to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama." http://jd.fo/r50mf With the 50th anniversary approaching next spring, a new coalition is bringing together blacks, Jews and others for progressive change.
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.