In their 60 Minutes interview, Ruth and Andrew Madoff reveal whether they knew about Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, a secret suicide attempt, and more. Watch video. Plus, Michael Daly on their self-serving tell-all.
Whether Andrew Knew
Andrew Madoff claims to have had no knowledge of his father Bernie’s illegal activities. Andrew and his brother, Mark, worked in their father's securities-trading firm, which was on a separate floor from where Madoff ran his Ponzi scheme. “You know, I knew ... I knew absolutely nothing about this ... before my father shared the information with [me]. And it was ... it was the most shocking and ... and terrible moment of my life.”
Did Ruth Know?
Ruth claims she never had any suspicions at all of Bernie’s activites, but that there were warning signs Bernie was under stress. She said, “I never did. I never did. It didn’t seem that way. There was nothing that would make me suspect anything. Sometimes I look back and I think as the years went on, he started to get more and more short-tempered, and maybe he was just having trouble. Obviously, he had to have been.”
When Bernie Confessed
On Dec. 10, 2008, Bernie told his family about the $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Andrew said, “I felt like my head exploded … I don’t think if he had told me he was an alien I could’ve been more surprised.” According to Andrew, Ruth’s first question was, “What’s a Ponzi scheme?”
Ruth & Bernie’s Suicide Attempt
On Christmas Eve, Bernie and Ruth Madoff tried to kill themselves. They left no notes, though they secretly sent some valuables to their children. They both took Ambien, but woke up the next morning. She says, “It wasn’t hard at the time. It was impulsive, and I just wanted out.”
In December 2010, Mark Madoff committed suicide. Ruth recalled, “I understood, I was going through those agonies of shame, and it was terrible. To feel that we were always so proud of who we were and Bernie’s success in the industry. It was ... was so difficult.” She blames herself for Mark’s death, because she did not cut off contact with Bernie, as Mark had repeatedly requested. “I just wish, until my dying day, that I had done what he wanted.”
Why Ruth Didn’t Leave
Andrew says he and Mark did not understand her decision to stay with Bernie. Ruth never considered leaving Bernie. “I don’t know why I didn’t, I just ... knew this man for so long, whom I loved for so many years. I didn’t know what else to do but stay there,” she said.
Ruth on Divorce
The scandal turned Ruth’s life upside down. One of her sons is dead, and she now lives in a small apartment in South Florida, but she is still legally married to Bernie—and has no plans to divorce him. “It doesn’t matter to me—he’s going to die in prison. I certainly don’t wanna find another man these days,” she says.