The Bag Lady Papers

Alexandra Penney—a New York artist and former editor of Self Magazine—lost her life savings in the Madoff debacle. She is sharing her wrenching trauma in an exclusive series of Daily Beast blog posts.

02.01.09 5:11 PM ET

The Bag Lady Papers, Part I

Last Thursday at around 5 p.m., I had just checked on a rising cheese soufflé in my oven when my best friend called.

"Heard Madoff's been arrested,” she said. “I hope it's a rumor. Doesn't he handle most of your money?” ... MORE >>


The Bag Lady Papers, Part II

It's been a little more than a week since Bernie Madoff raped me financially.

As I wrote here in The Daily Beast, he had all the money I earned and saved since I was a teenager. I counted on it to be there when I was weak and wizened. Now all of it is gone. ... MORE >>


The Bag Lady Papers, Part III

I’m in my dented white ’95 station wagon heading south to clear my mind of the Madoff debacle and to sell a very small trailer-size cottage in the funkier part of Florida. I need the money so I’ll have something to live on for the next few months. ... MORE >>



The Bag Lady Papers, Part IV

J'Absolutely Refuse to let this afternoon's decision faze me. I'm sitting at my computer using Photoshop to work on images for a gallery show. They’re over-the-top pictures of blow-up dolls drowning in the azure pools of Palm Beach mansions. I'm doing what I love best for a few short hours—so eff Madoff right now. ... MORE >>


The Bag Lady Papers, Part V

Bernard Madoff may have stolen all her money—but he also got her a book deal. The Daily Beast’s Alexandra Penney on her fury at the SEC—and the thrill of sipping Cristal again. ... MORE >>



Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rex Features ( 834903d )
Bernard Madoff and wife Ruth at a party in the desert near Cabo san Lucas
Bernard Madoff, Cabo san Lucas, Mexico - May 2008
Bernard Madoff, the hedge fund boss accused of a $50bn fraud, has put up $10m bail. In addition to surrendering his own passport, Mr Madoff has also agreed to hand in that of his wife Ruth. Among the banks that have been hit are Britain's HSBC and RBS, Spain's Santander and France's BNP Paribas. US prosecutors say Mr Madoff, a former head of the Nasdaq stock market, masterminded a fraud of massive proportions through his hedge fund and investment advisory business. Mr Madoff is alleged to have used money from new investors to pay off existing investors in the fund. Mr Madoff, 70, founded Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities in 1960, but also ran a separate hedge fund business. Madoff told at least three employees on Wednesday that the hedge fund business - which served up to 25 clients and had $17.1bn under management - was a fraud and had been insolvent for years. If found guilty, US prosecutors say he could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $5m. He is due to appear in court on 12 Jan 2008

Rex Features

The Bag Lady Returns

Madoff victim and Daily Beast blogger Alexandra Penney has discovered an even more repugnant sociopath than Bernie: His loyal wife Ruth, who now wants to keep $69 million, including the penthouse. Outraged Penney asks: excusez moi? ... MORE >>



Louis Lanzano

The Bag Lady Papers, Part VII

Madoff victim and Daily Beast blogger Alexandra Penney on Bernie's dirty fantasies, living the frugal life, and some post-Ponzi schadenfreude—like seeing Ruthie's roots. ... MORE >>



The Bag Lady Papers Part VIII

Madoff victim Alexandra Penney on Bernie’s sentencing, Ruthie’s cruel fate—left with just $2.5 million!—and the finer things in her frugal new life: a classic piece from an Upper East Side thrift shop. ... MORE >>


Fantasy Shopper

A year ago, Bernie Madoff wiped out Alexandra Penney—whose new book on the ordeal comes out in February. In the latest installment of the Bag Lady Papers, she’s says she’s been daydreaming about Aston Martins, black diamond earrings, and other things she’d buy if she was still a millionaire. ... MORE >>