It turns out Bernie Madoff was as profligate in his personal life as he was in his professional one, repeatedly cheating and lying to the wife for whom he ultimately sacrificed himself.
By now we've all seen Sheryl Weinstein, the amply endowed blonde who says she was Madoff's longtime girlfriend. But Bernie had more than one extra-marital affair during his marriage to Ruth, according to a man close to the fraudster. He also had a number of masseuses who apparently not only gave him massages, but bestowed sexual favors upon him afterward, the federal source said.
He also had a number of masseuses who apparently not only gave him massages, but bestowed sexual favors upon him afterward.
"He had a tremendous libido, like so many men in power," the source added. "He told me that Ruth just couldn't satisfy it. I suppose no one woman could." The source, like so many other friends of Madoff, lost money when the Ponzi scheme crashed. He admitted, however, that he had made more in recent years than he lost and did not want his name used for fear that the trustee charged with compensating Madoff victims would target him for a "clawback"—sue him for his monetary gains.
Another person who is investigating the Madoff affair said one of the girlfriends, reportedly devastated by the evidence of her boyfriend's profound duplicity, moved to London. "He told her lies that she discovered only after the fact, including his declarations of love to her."
An informant for a law-enforcement agency reported that Bernie had been seen at an Italian restaurant in downtown New York City, talking intimately with a woman who had bright blond hair. His wife, Ruth, and Sheryl Weinstein, the CFO of the Hadassah foundation, also sport bright blond hair.
A onetime friend of Ruth's, a Madoff victim who is also subject to clawbacks, says that Bernie's absences made Ruth suspect, and perhaps even know, that he was having at least one affair. As proficient as he was in making people trust him, she eventually became wise to his masquerade. When she let him know of her doubts about his fidelity, Bernie responded by lavishing attention on Ruth, letting her accompany him everywhere. "He was highly motivated to make sure she thought he loved her," the friend said. One of the reasons the two appeared so wound up with each other was that he wanted to keep her from wandering. He couldn't afford to have her confide in anyone about his ways in business.
"I don't think he ever even slipped—you know, dropped some hint—about his Ponzi scheme to any of his mistresses."
The friend did not know whether Ruth, his onetime bookkeeper, knew about the scam.
"She could have been skeptical about what she found in the accounts but decided not to delve into it. She is that kind of a person, she's able to shut things out and she was devoted to Bernie, in spite of everything. There are some things you just do not want to know about your husband."
However, according to the friend, she was ever vigilant when her husband was talking to a woman. "She would come right over, even if he was trying to land a client. He had the habit of cozying up to potential female investors. He'd use a low kind of sexy voice and he'd say something like, 'Don't worry, I'll be there for you. You'll never have to worry.' It irritated Ruth."
Said one of the previously mentioned law-enforcement sources who is close to the FBI: "We've been told Ruth is a very proud woman. This is the kind of publicity she hates. She must be beside herself now."
Lucinda Franks is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who was on the staff of The New York Times and has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review and Magazine. Her latest book is My Father's Secret War, about her father, who was a spy for the OSS during World War II.