The Bernard Madoff scandal has so saturated the media that you may have missed some of the juiciest details. Which celebrities did Madoff fleece? How many houses did he own? And what did his accountant’s vanity license plates say? We’ve combed through the records to assemble a dossier: the best of Bernie.
The Madoff Lifestyle
- Bernie is a famous multitasker. On the Thursday of his arrest, “he sat in the FBI’s New York offices with his one wrist handcuffed to a chair and the other holding a telephone he used to contact his attorney.”
- The price of initiation at the Palm Beach Country Club, whose members Madoff conned? $300,000. Madoff’s handicap was a 12, but there is a plausible theory that he might have cheated on the course, too.
- Madoff had a 55-foot yacht named “Bull.”
- Cost of Madoff’s haircuts: $65. Shaves: $40. Pedicures: $50. Manicures: $22.
- Bernie owned a $7 million East 64th St. penthouse, a $9.4 million Palm Beach mansion (8,753 sq. ft.), and a $3.1 million house in Montauk (2,800 sq. ft.). He had to put his houses up as collateral for bail, and is under house arrest in New York.
The price of initiation at the Palm Beach Country Club, whose members Madoff conned? $300,000. Madoff’s handicap was a 12, but there is a plausible theory that he might have cheated on the course, too.
- Bernie’s wife, Ruth, co-edited a cookbook called The Great Chefs of America Cook Kosher. She might have also aided her husband’s crimes. She’s under investigation.
- Bernie’s niece, Shana Madoff, loved to shop. Sample: “[S]he was thumbing through Harper’s Bazaar when she stumbled across a tweed Prada bag she knew would go perfectly with her Rodriguez basics. She left her friends and walked down the beach saying she had ‘to make an important phone call.’ She ordered the bag on her cell phone.”
- Shana worked as a lawyer for her uncle. Then she married Eric Swanson, an SEC official. Her uncle robbed her. Now her husband’s connections to her uncle’s firm are being investigated.
- Madoff’s sons, Andrew and Mark, turned him in, claiming that they had no knowledge of his scheme. But some are skeptical of their claims.
- Bernie on the SEC, October 2007: "They tend to look at the industry as if you're making a profit there's something wrong even though intellectually they know that shouldn't be."
- Bernie to his senior employees, December 10: “It's all just one big lie."
- On the list: Two professional sports franchise owners; two of the founding partners of DreamWorks; one Nobel Laureate; one United States senator; one hedge fund manager who became wealthy enough that he posed with his five daughters for a Vanity Fair spread (“Golden in Greenwich”).
- Hadassah, the Zionist women's group that touts itself as the largest volunteer organization in America, lost $90 million.
- Madoff fleeced Yeshiva University for up to $110 million, even while he sat on their board and served as chairman of their business school.
- Some non-profits have been entirely obliterated by Madoff. The JEHT Foundation, an advocacy group for criminal justice reform, announced it would shutter its doors after donors revealed its funds were tied up in Madoff's scheme.
- E-mail from a Madoff victim. "My elderly mother had ALL her life savings invested with this guy. she is of course distraught and i am worried for her health. please can you provide some guidance—where the investors should turn to at this point? what should they do???"
- Bernie’s accountant, Daniel Friehling, worked upstate, in New City, and only showed up at his 13-by-18 office for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, according to a neighbor. Friehling drives cars with the vanity plates “FTROOP” and “145CPA.”
- Is Madoff the Thomas Pynchon of investment bankers? A photographer for Barron’s had a hard time finding a photo of Bernie. “It was as if the guy didn't exist in the 21st century.”
The Final Insults
- Madoff was shoved around by news photographers Wednesday after a court appearance.
- Donald Trump is calling Madoff a “ sleazebag” and a “total crook.” He also implied that Madoff’s sons might have might have been in on the scheme.
- On Dec. 14, a neighbor saw Madoff sitting in his window, smoking a cigar at 3 a.m. His wife, Ruth, “ came and cradled his head in her arms.”
Ben Crair is an editorial assistant at The Daily Beast. Benjamin Sarlin is a reporter for The Daily Beast. He previously covered New York City politics for The New York Sun and has worked for talkingpointsmemo.com.