Online support group Web sites devoted to investors who lost their fortunes with Bernie Madoff are buzzing about an item that was posted this week about Ruth Madoff on a password-protected site. A source forwarded the item to The Daily Beast, and it claims Ruth attempted to return 15 Chanel handbags to the luxury women’s store Bergdorf Goodman.
Here is the item:
“A friend of a friend of mine works at Bergdorf Goodman, NY. Each department was instructed to check their records for any and all purchases by the Madoffs, going back (I don't know how long), in cooperation with an investigation. Meanwhile, the other day, Ruth Madoff went into the store to the Chanel department, with the intention of returning 15 handbags. Fifteen Chanel handbags! ... and they wonder where the billions went. Apparently, the Chanel saleswoman (well-known to a certain strata of shopper) refused, and there was some sort of altercation, partially physical (like the saleswoman ripping and throwing one of the bags at her or some such), as far as I understand. Security was called to escort Mrs. Madoff out of the store. She was asked to never return. Double entendre... And, I'm told, SOMEONE (salesperson on the floor, I think—not certain) got the whole thing on video. Stay tuned... film at 11:00… Ordinarily, I don't spread gossip. Nor do I convey news without knowing details. But this was priceless (another pun)... I couldn't resist. It was the highlight of my day... which pretty much illustrates what my life is like.
Further, RM is said to have gone on a return spree at Saks, as well.”
So when The Daily Beast called Bergdorf Goodman in New York City at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue to try to confirm this report, the lady at the Chanel purse counter declined to comment.
Then we called Bergdorf spokeswoman, Emily Horowitz, to ask whether it was true. After saying, “This is the first I have heard of this,” Horowitz emailed: “I have NOT been able to confirm that the information about Ruth Madoff is true.” And a few minutes later: “No comment. I have no information about this.”
Ruth Madoff's lawyer, Peter Chavkin, did not return calls.
Allan Dodds Frank is a business investigative correspondent who specializes in white-collar crime.