Perhaps the most truly “insider” account of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme to date, recounting the fallout for his immediate family. Madoff Mack was married to Bernie’s eldest son Mark, who hanged himself in his Soho loft two years to the day after his father’s arrest.
The new 60 Minutes interview with Ruth Madoff, where she reveals that she and her husband Bernie, the engineer of one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, tried to commit suicide has energized his victims into complaining that the family is looking for sympathy. Madoff scammed everyone from average people to celebrities.
Television legend Larry King, who revealed in an interview that he invested $700,000 with Madoff and almost invested everything he had.
According to The Associated Press, in an interview with Extra, he and his wife were able to get the $700,000 back from the Madoff estate, while the rest came from the government because of taxes they paid on stock they never had.
The day Mark Madoff told his wife of his father’s fraud was November 21, 2008, Madoff Mack writes in the first chapter. She was pregnant, busying herself finishing the baby’s nursery and worrying that she might be suffering gestational diabetes when Mark called her, blurting out:
“It’s my father. My father has done something very bad, and is probably going to jail for the rest of his life.”
When Mark and his brother Andy then joined Bernie and Ruth Madoff at their East 64th Street apartment, Bernie’s first words to his family were: “It’s all one big lie.” Writes Stephanie:
There were no investments, no brilliant returns, just somewhere around $50 billion in debts that he couldn’t pay. Bernie betrayed no emotion or remorse, calmly delivering his bombshell with the cool demeanor of an anchorman reading a wire report on the evening news. When he was done, he began to cry.
Stephanie writes that her husband and brother-in-law stormed out of the apartment and began assembling a legal team: “They were turning their father in.” What followed has been detailed exhaustively in the media since, but Stephanie’s account contains personal details that make the book worth reading. She suggests, for instance, that her husband’s greatest pain was Ruth Madoff’s decision to stand by her guilty, jailed husband rather than siding with her sons.
Stephanie. daughter-in-law of Bernie Madoff has revealed how the convicted con-artist sent her letters from prison in which he spoke of being respected ‘like a mafia don’.
The repulsive boasts also described his life at Butner Prison – where he was sentenced to 150 years in June 2009 for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in American history – as having a ‘college campus feel’.
After her father-in-law was jailed in North Carolina, Stephanie wrote him a letter punishing Madoff with details about his family, in particular the young grandchildren Audrey and Nicholas, that he would never see again.
Madoff‘s shocking response came filled with boasts and egotistical ramblings.
He wrote: ‘As you can imagine, I am quite the celebrity, and am treated like a Mafia don. They call me either Uncle Bernie or Mr. Madoff.
‘I can’t walk anywhere without someone shouting their greetings and encouragement, to keep my spirit up. It’s really quite sweet, how concerned everyone is about my well being, including the staff…It’s much safer here than walking the streets of New York.’
Astoundingly, the disgraced financier also proudly tells his daughter-in-law that he has been asked to teach a business class while in prison.
Miss Madoff Mack didn’t show the letter to her husband Mark, who was already tortured by his father’s unimaginable duplicity.
Mark Madoff committed suicide on December 11 last year. His dead body was found hanging from a ceiling beam while his son slept in the other room.
Miss Madoff Mack told ABC: ‘My husband was in terrible, terrible pain. He was so deeply hurt by it all, that he just, he, he just couldn’t move past it.’
In another letter, Madoff tried to console his daughter-in-law after his son’s suicide but ends up defending his crimes. He wrote: ‘I realize that my pain will never take away the loss and suffering that you and the children feel. ‘Stephanie, I can understand your hatred and anger towards me. Nothing I can say will probably change this. ‘However I feel I must say some things to you. It is clear that you have bought into the media’s characterization of me. I know that you can’t believe it was ever my intention to hurt my family.’
In it she claims Bernie once eyed up his daughter-in-law’s bottom when she was pregnant with his grandchild and made crude jokes about how big it was.
She said the disgraced financier is a sleaze and a hygiene freak who forced her to sign a prenup to ‘protect his business’.
Stephanie also uses the book to give paint a frank portrait of Ruth Madoff, who she accuses bluntly of being ‘manipulative’.
She writes: ‘Ruth could take you down like a sniper….she just never had a thought she didn’t instantly express.
‘I remember when she gave me a lovely platinum chain for Hanukkah. As I opened the necklace Ruth blithely explained she had really wanted to get me a gorgeous evil-eye bracelet made of diamonds, blue topaz and sapphires, ”but I just couldn’t bring myself to spent that kind of money on you”.
Ruth Madoff, 68, is a diet freak. Stephanie writes that she also let her in on her ‘secret trick’ for portion control in restaurants.
She writes: ‘Once she had eaten the amount of lean protein she considered reasonable, she would dump a copious amount of salt over whatever was left on her plate to keep herself from overeating.’
Stephanie claims her mother-in-law works out three times a week, had gone through two-face lifts and ‘aggressively fought any wrinkles with fillers, laser treatments and Botox’ along with Veneers on her teeth.
She goes on: ‘A carb never touched her lips. Even on vacations I never saw her eat so much as a single dinner roll, slice of toast or even cracker with cheese.
‘She would rinse the mayo off the coleslaw when I bought a tub to go with the roast chicken for a casual family lunch.
‘When we occasionally made the mistake of tossing out the chicken carcass after Mark had carved it and put the meat on a serving platter, Ruth would dig through the trash to retrieve it.
‘The carcass was her favorite part. She would put the skeletal remains on a plate in front of her and happily nibble away and suck at the bones.’
During their first family holiday in Florida, Stephanie writes how ‘the two of them (Ruth and Bernie) spent the entire time trash talking the hired help’.
‘Ruth barked commands at the housekeeper, Marlena, and mocked her Spanish accent.
The book claims that Mrs Madoff‘s ‘looks were important to her’ and that she was ‘obsessed with staying thin and looking younger than her sixty-something peers, and she worked hard at it.’
Ruth‘s signature look was ‘firmly rooted in the 1980s’ and she used to wear navy eyeliner and ‘pancake foundation’.
In 2008 during a trip to Florida Ruth and her older sister Joan let slip that they may have been born illegitimately.Their mother Sara had not actually divorced her ex-husband by the time she had them both, although neither knew exactly what happened.
The young widow said she feels ‘betrayed’ and has not forgiven her mother-in-law Ruth, or her husband’s brother Andrew, for allegedly abandoning Mark. Ruth will never see her grandchildren again, she said.
Stephanie told People magazine the couple’s two children Audrey, 4, and Nicholas, 2, still miss their dad.
She said her late husband relentlessly followed news coverage about his father and failed in a 2009 suicide attempt, leaving a note saying his life was ‘destroyed’ and telling his dad: ‘F**k you’.
Earlier this week she became the first member of the family to grant an interview, telling ABC News she holds her father-in-law ‘fully responsible for killing my husband’ and she would ‘spit in his face’.
She said her daughter Audrey sometimes shouts ‘I love you, daddy!’ in the sky and recently asked her: ‘Why didn’t daddy take his cell phone with him when he died?’, reported People magazine.
The couple wed in 2004 after meeting on a blind date when Stephanie worked in fashion and Mark worked in finance. But she said his ‘handsome face aged overnight’ when Bernie was jailed.
‘The smile that made me fall in love with him disappeared altogether,’ she wrote in her new book, adding that Mark would obsessively follow news reports in fear of being implicated in the scandal.
She said her husband was ‘in pure shock’ about his father’s lies. ‘He was enraged as well,’ Stephanie told ABC. ‘Furious that his father could’ve done this – destroyed so many lives and destroyed his.’
Stephanie said her husband physically changed as the charges against his father unravelled and he even grew a beard to disguise himself.
Mark described himself as ‘beyond devastated’ when he emailed her an article entitled ‘Madoff’s kin eyed as probe grinds on’, reported People magazine. She replied: ‘I cannot take this anymore!’
Mark was found dead in his New York loft apartment on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest last year – as their young son Nicholas slept in the next room.
Her mother-in-law Ruth was banned from Mark’s funeral by a furious Stephanie after flying from Florida to Connecticut to attend the service following his death last December.
‘(Bernie) stood there in the corner at my wedding watching everyone dance, and he knew that everyone in that room was going to get screwed,’ she told ABC.
After her husband’s Ponzi scheme collapsed in 2008, Ruth was warned by her sons Mark and Andrew to leave him or lose contact with them. At the time she chose her sons.
But after Bernie was attacked in prison in 2009 she returned to his side and her furious sons severed all ties with her.
But Ruth has now stopped visiting in a bid to salvage a relationship with Andrew.
Perhaps the most fascinating portion of the book comes towards the end. Before his suicide last year, Mark Madoff had been writing his own memoir. He was never able to get past the opening paragraphs, which his widow excerpts in The End of Normal. The last few lines Mark put to paper tell of his inability to get past his father’s crimes.
My own father has stolen my life from me. It’s pain that is beyond description. The business that I spent twenty-three years building gone, I am unemployed, my livelihood destroyed, and my family will forever live with the shame of what my father has done. There are so many victims of my father’s fraud, so many horrible stories. How do I explain to my children what I do not understand myself?
The author changed her surname to Mack in the scandal’s aftermath in an attempt to deflect attention from her family and children. In the book, she writes that she wishes she could change her birthday too: “I share the date with Bernie.”
The book’s publication coincides with news that HBO has found a screenwriter for its planned Madoff biopic, with Robert DeNiro set to play the title role.
Ruth Madoff was hurt more by husband’s alleged infidelity than his Ponzi scheme.
In a confrontation with her son Andrew, she said that was “the most hurtful thing” that ever happened to her, the book says.
When she wondered aloud why Bernard didn’t just leave her, Andrew reportedly offered one possible explanation: In a divorce, Bernard’s finances would have been scrutinized.
Left hanging is the implication that if Ruth had left her husband and forced such an accounting, his house of cards might have collapsed earlier.
The book, “Truth and Consequences: Life Inside The Madoff Family,” is to be released Monday. The Washington Post obtained a copy Friday. The account is written by author and magazine writer Laurie Sandell, who says she was approached by Andrew and his fiancee, Catherine Hooper, to write about the family’s painful experience. Ruth also cooperated, Sandell writes.
Sandell previously published “The Impostor’s Daughter,” a memoir about her life as the daughter of a charming father who she says was actually a con artist.
Besieged and vilified, Bernie and Ruth attempted unsuccessfully to kill themselves with sleeping pills, the book says. But first, Ruth mailed favored pieces of jewelry to members of her family.
The collapse of the Ponzi scheme and the loss of money left Ruth’s sister and brother-in-law, both in their 70s, driving airport taxis for a living, the book says.
The book says Ruth confronted her husband about his affairs during a prison visit, saying she regretted never having resolved her past accusations. He responded with a denial, the book says.