After Judge Denny Chin threw down a hefty 150 year sentence to Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff, his wife, Ruth, who has remained quiet in her posh Upper East Side penthouse throughout the entire situation — except when she made the mistake of leaving her home in March to buy cheese — finally broke her silence on the matter. Her statement follows:
I am breaking my silence now, because my reluctance to speak has been interpreted as indifference or lack of sympathy for the victims of my husband Bernie’s crime, which is exactly the opposite of the truth.
From the moment I learned from my husband that he had committed an enormous fraud, I have had two thoughts — first, that so many people who trusted him would be ruined financially and emotionally, and second, that my life with the man I have known for over 50 years was over. Many of my husband’s investors were my close friends and family. And in the days since December, I have read, with immense pain, the wrenching stories of people whose life savings have evaporated because of his crime.
My husband was the one we (and I include myself) respected and trusted with our lives and our livelihoods, often for many, many years, and who was respected in the securities industry as well. Then there is the other man who stunned us all with his confession and is responsible for this terrible situation in which so many now find themselves. Lives have been upended and futures have been taken away. All those touched by this fraud feel betrayed; disbelieving the nightmare they woke to. I am embarrassed and ashamed.
Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused. The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years.
In the end, to say that I feel devastated for the many whom my husband has destroyed is truly inadequate. Nothing I can say seems sufficient regarding the daily suffering that all those innocent people are enduring because of my husband. But if it matters to them at all, please know that not a day goes by when I don’t ache over the stories that I have heard and read.
The latest edition of Vanity Fair brought yet more grist for the Madoff mill — this time with a profile of Madoff’s sons, Andrew and Mark. In theory, this ought to be fascinating stuff: the boys who turned in their father. What could be more Oedipal?
But it’s pretty thin gruel. One problem is access. Not surprisingly, reporter David Margolick seems to have had trouble getting anyone particularly close to the boys to speak frankly, and on the record. In fact, there isn’t much in the way of clear information at all. Though the sons remain under a pall of suspicion, there isn’t any solid evidence that they were involved. The suspicion, rather, comes from the sense that they were Bernie’s family – surely they must have known. And plenty of others feel certain that they didn’t – according to the article, Edward Blumenfeld, a New York real estate developer whose family lost big with Madoff, nonetheless invited Mark to Passover seder.
The more serious problem, from a storytelling point of view, is that the sons seem perfectly ordinary: a pair of straightforward, seemingly honest, and un-imaginative young men who spent their entire careers working for the family firm. They don’t have any of Bernie’s epic qualities, such as his resentful ambition, his poker-faced connivance, his compulsiveness, his outrageous audacity or his callousness.
The relationship with their father is hazy. Bernie’s former secretary says they were close, but others say Bernie was a distant, critical man who refused to give his sons any latitude or credit. But rather than strike out on their own, they sullenly continued to work for their father. A more interesting detail emerges about the boys’ mother, Ruth: They apparently haven’t spoken to her since Bernie confessed to them, not because they think she was in on the scheme, but “because they believe that her tendency to side with him, no matter what, when they complained to her about him, enabled his dirty deeds.”
If Bernard Madoff’s story was the dark side of the classic striver’s tale — the outsider whose will to reach the top leads him to destroy his friends, family, and eventually himself — then his sons represent the next generation. They didn’t have to strive to reach the top because they grew up there. They had nowhere to go — except, as it turned out, straight down.
As the government talks about seizing her assets, did Ruth Madoff throw caution to the wind — and go on a shopping spree in New York City? The short answer is no, but the paparazzi mistook Hugh Jackman’s wife, the actress Deborra-Lee Furness, for 67-year-old Ruth Madoff on the streets of New York City yesterday. In a video posted on the gossip Web site TMZ, a paparazzo claims the mix-up had something to do with Furness’s sunglasses. Perhaps, it also had something to do with the glut of shopping bags the actress was toting.
Furness, right, is actually more than a decade younger than the well-preserved Mrs. Madoff.
Bernard Madoff, who is expected to plead guilty Thursday to running a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, may not be the only one to go to jail for the massive fraud that he allegedly masterminded. A piece by Lucinda Franks, posted Tuesday night on The Daily Beast, suggests that the feds are focusing their attention on some 20 possible co-conspirators, who are divided into three groups. Franks writes:
In the first group are employees of Madoff’s firm who concocted false trades and sent out phony statements to thousands of unsuspecting clients.
The second group is comprised of principals in feeder funds such as Cohmad Securities Corp. and Fairfield Greenwich Group, which funneled investor dollars to Madoff and received large fees for steering this business. If they were aware of Madoff’s fraud, they could face criminal charges; if they were not, they could be hit with civil charges for a lack of due diligence.
…The third group is the target of an investigation that’s still in its early stages into money laundering through British banks, in which US and British authorities are cooperating. This group consists of solicitors, accountants, and others in London who may have assisted Madoff in transferring funds from client accounts to a Madoff entity that lists Ruth Madoff, brother Peter Madoff, and sons Mark and Andrew Madoff among its board members.
Speaking of Mrs. Madoff: The 67-year-old matriarch, who withdrew some $15.5 million in the weeks leading up to her husband’s arrest, will no longer be represented by her husband’s lawyer, Ira Sorkin. Given the increased scrutiny over her role as a company bookkeeper, she’s apparently decided to retain a lawyer of her own.
And as for Sorkin, as long as he continues to defend Mr. Madoff, he can expect to be a target of much of the public rage against his client. The lawyer, whom the Forward profiled back in January, is the subject of a New York Times article. The piece details the angry messages that fill Sorkin’s email and voicemail boxes. One message, The Times reports, was particularly hateful. It read: “As one Jew to another, I deeply regret that the Sorkin family did not perish in the Nazi death camps.”
Remember that kosher cookbook Ruth Madoff — the wife of disgraced Wall Street trader Bernard Madoff — supposedly co-edited? Well, now another one of the book’s editors, Karen MacNeil, is telling The New York Times that “… in point of fact, I wrote the entire book.”
MacNeil also said that Ruth Madoff “was interested in having her name on something that would allow for some sort of fun.”
Doubt the Missus is having too much fun these days, now that her husband stands accused of perpetrating a massive fraud.
It may take more than comfort food to soothe Bernard Madoff, who feds say ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history. But as long as Madoff — who was released on $10 milion bail last week — remains holed up in his Upper East Side penthouse, he might as well feast on warm leek and potato soup, Dover sole poached in vermouth, and cranberry linzertorte. His wife, Ruth, should have no trouble throwing these dishes together; they are among the recipes in a 1996 cookbook that she co-authored.
In “Great Chefs of America Cook Kosher: Over 175 Recipes From America’s Greatest Restaurants,” Ruth and her two co-authors reached out to the chefs of world-renowned restaurants, and asked them to provide kosher renditions of their favorite dishes. Proceeds from the cookbook went to the Jewish National Fund.
The book’s featured recipes, from the likes of such tony restaurants as L.A.’s Campanile and Philadelphia’s Le Bec Fin, sure beat prison meals and commissary snacks — and that is precisely what Bernie could be eating for the rest of his days, if convicted of securities fraud.
In a 1996 press release about the publication of “Great Chefs,” a cookbook co-author, Idee Schoenheimer, explained how Ruth tested the so-called healthy dishes and disqualified those made with cream: “Ruth was our conscience.”
Someone in the family should have one.