Sisterhood Blog

Ruth Madoff's Marital Bed May Be Returned

By Gabrielle Birkner

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The bed, on the auction block.

The 10.5-carat diamond ring that once graced Ruth Madoff’s hand, and the Steinway piano that once graced her living room are likely gone for good. But the elaborately draped, four-poster bed that she slept in alongside the world’s most famous Ponzi schemer could soon be hers again — that is, if the woman who purchased it Saturday at an auction of Madoff family possessions is serious.

Tally Wiener, an Upper West Side resident who put in the winning bid for the ornate bed, told CBS-2 News: “My heart goes out to Ruth Madoff and I would be happy to give her back her bed.”

Wiener is a bankruptcy attorney, who in February 2009 wrote an article explaining the legal framework for “clawbacks,” as a means to compensate victims of Bernard Madoff’s fraud. According to this article in The New York Times, Wiener and a fellow bankruptcy lawyer attended another Madoff auction about a year ago, where they purchased “a tree stump that had been turned into an end table for $500.”

Proceeds from both auctions benefited victims of the multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Wiener isn’t alone in expressing sympathy for Ruth Madoff. The Sisterhood’s Debra Nussbaum Cohen last year wrote this defense of her:

All the more so for couples of the Madoffs’ generation. Ruth is 67, Bernie 71. It was typical, when they were married 50 years ago, for women to be uninvolved in their family financial life and certainly in their husbands’ business affairs, even if they were close in other respects.

I feel sure that she enjoyed all of the material fruits of her husband’s fraud. But I think she can only be blamed for greed and willful ignorance. And, to a certain extent, can’t we all?

It is human nature to want to turn responsibility over to people who say that they’ll take care of things — whether it’s an investor when we desperately want someone to provide us with big dividends, a doctor when we are desperately ill, or a rebbe, when we are desperate to have faith.

But apparently, rachmones for Ruth Madoff doesn’t end with the benefit of the doubt, but with the return of her ornate marital bed.

How’s that for sisterhood?


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