Bernie Madoff has died in prison at the age of 82. The disgraced financier died on Wednesday morning from natural causes according to sources cited by The Associated Press
Bernie Madoff, the disgraced financier who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in US history, has died in prison at the age of 82.
Madoff died on Wednesday morning from natural causes, according to sources cited by The Associated Press, at the Federal Correctional Facility in Butner, North Carolina, where he was 12 years into a 150 year prison sentence.
Last June, he asked for compassionate release claiming he was dying from kidney disease. His attorney said at the time that he had less than 18 months to live.
He was denied by a judge who said he’d committed ‘one of the most egregious financial crimes’ in US history.
Madoff robbed victims 37,000 victims in 136 countries of $64.8 billion, taking one’s money to pay off the other and fake investments, for two decades before finally being arrested in 2008.
The victims included celebrities, billionaires and people who could barely afford to invest with him in the first place.
Some lost everything and at least one killed themselves over the fraud. The judge in his case called it one of if not the most egregious financial crimes in history.
One of Madoff’s sons, Mark, hanged himself in December 2010 on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest, and his other son Andrew died from lymphoma in 2013. His wife Ruth moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, after his arrest to live in exile.
In December 2008, Madoff was arrested after his two sons turned him in to the FBI. He had confessed to them that there was no money in their family office, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, saying it was all ‘one big lie’.
He admitted it was all ‘one big lie’ and said he’d finally been forced to come clean because all of his clients came asking for redemption as a result of the 2008 crash. Initially, he was given house arrest after posting a $10million bond. He was taken into custody shortly before his trial and was sentenced in June 2009.
Madoff was born in Queens in 1938. His father, Ralph, was a stockbroker and plumber and his grandparents had emigrated to the US from Eastern Europe.
He studied political science then law before founding Madoff Investment Securities in the 1960s. Initially, it was a penny stock trading firm. He brought on his younger brother Peter and his wife Ruth to run the books then, when his kids were old enough, hired them as executives.
In the beginning, he made his money on the spread of buying and selling cheap penny stocks. It was legal but frowned upon by the more establish funds on Wall Street.
It wasn’t until the 1970s, when the practice became legal on bigger trades, that Madoff started making a name for himself on the Street. That was also when he befriended federal regulators – which would become crucial to how long he evaded them years later.
Madoff claims the fraud only began in the 1990s, after the Gulf War which he said stunted the market. Authorities say it went back to the mid 1980s .
Madoff died at the Federal Correctional Facility in Butner, North Carolina. Last June, his attorney’s asked for compassionate release, claiming he was dying of renal kidney failure and had 18 months to live
Madoff inside Madoff Investment Securities in December 1999, years after the scheme began. He started the firm in the 60s with $5,000, trading penny stocks
Bernie with his wife Ruth and their son Andrew at a black tie event on Long Island in 2001. The family lived in the upper echelons of New York City society, splitting their time between Manhattan and The Hamptons
Madoff with his two sons, Mark (left) and Andrew (center) in 2001, in the Hamptons. Mark and Andrew both worked with their father. Mark killed himself on the second anniversary of Madoff’s arrest in December 2010. Andrew died of lymphoma in 2014
The Madoff’s palatial beachfront property in Montauk, Long Island. It was one of many homes the family owned
The Madoffs also had property in Palm Beach, Florida, that was paid for with other people’s money
Madoff was arrested in December 2010 after his two sons turned him in
Madoff bewitched not just financiers and federal regulators but also the rich and famous who he promised to make millions for.
When the SEC investigated irregularities or suspicious transactions coming from his office, he assuaged them by telling them he had everything under control.
They believed him.
After his arrest, an entire overhaul was ordered to ensure similar crimes wouldn’t go unnoticed again.
His clients included Steven Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon, former New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Weise.
Madoff insisted in prison that he began legitimately but that he started committing fraud in the early 1990s after the Gulf War caused the market to stall.
It ran smoothly until the financial crash of 2008 when suddenly, all of his clients started asking for redemption at once.
That is when he revealed to sons Mark and Andrew that it had all been a lie.
Mark hanged himself in his Manhattan apartment on the two year anniversary of his father’s death.
His wife later blamed her father-in-law, telling ABC: ‘He couldn’t get out, he was so betrayed and so hurt by Bernie.
Bernie’s house of cards came crashing down in 2008 when, all at once, his clients – suffering from the global financial crash – asked him for redemption. That was when he was finally forced to admit there was no money to give them
Mark Madoff was found hanging in his Manhattan apartment in December 2010. His wife blamed his father and the shame he felt over his crimes
‘I hate Bernie Madoff. If I saw Bernie Madoff right now, I would tell him that I hold him fully responsible for killing my husband, and I’d spit in his face.’
Andrew died from lymphoma in 2014. Bernie’s brother Peter was also jailed. He spent eight years in prison for his role in the scheme and was released last June.
In 2019, Ruth reached a settlement with some of her husband’s surviving victims to pay them $600,000.
It was a tiny fraction of the fraud he’d actually committed, but she said it was the best she could do with the limited resources she had been left.
When the FBI arrested Madoff, they froze and seized most of his assets but they let Ruth keep $2.5million for legal fees.
Madoff’s wife Ruth fled Manhattan in exile after his arrest in 2008. She has been living quietly in Greenwich, CT, for the last several years