Madoff Talks From Prison About His “Billion Dollar” Net Worth and “Strategies”
11:06 am, May 23rd | by Amy Tennery
In the wake of the Madoff Ponzi scandal, the public dialogue has switched from “how could he?” to “did they know?” We’re referring, of course, to the alleged Madoff feeder fund managers and in-the-loop investors, who somehow managed to make a killing off of Bernie while others were, well, just killed.
The spotlight settled on Mets owner Fred Wilpon in 2009, when major news outlets reported that he made roughly $48 million from his investment with Madoff. Since then, Wilpon’s key fight has shifted from resurrecting the Mets lineup to salvaging his reputation — and fortune.
An opus published in the New Yorker articulates the challenge this way: “Wilpon must prove that he was a dupe rather than a crook.”
Of course, Bernie is all to happy to settle that score (from prison, of course):
““Fred was not [at] all stock market savvy and [friend and fellow investor] Saul [Katz] was not really either. They were strictly Real Estate people. Although I explained the Strategy to them they were not sophisticated enough to evaluate it properly, nor were most of my other individual clients. They were not in a position to perform the necessary due diligence and did not have access to necessary financial info or records.”
So that’s it? Wilpon was too stupid to know what was happening?
In a series of interviews over email and by phone (“the grinding sounds of a floor buffer in the background nearly drowned him out,” the reporter comments), Madoff insists that when Wilpon first invested with him in the 80s, he was on the level — something that prosecutors deny (Madoff said the Ponzi scheme started in the 1990s, the prosecutors contend it began in the 1980s):
“I was worth a billion dollars before any of this nonsense started. I had my apartment, a beach house, my yacht, a small house in France. It was very conservative compared to what I could have afforded. We were all making a lot of money. I spent what fit in with our family life styles. He was just a regular guy, and that’s what he likes about me.”
A billion dollars, eh? Too bad about that whole zero credibility thing or that might almost be impressive.
Of course, Madoff really doesn’t help his case by claiming that he and Wilpon’s values were “identical,” but we’ll let that one go. Unfortunately for Wilpon, others may not.
Also, after the tongue lashing Wilpon gave some of the Mets’ biggest stars in the piece — and after calling the Mets a “s— team” — we doubt he’ll be getting any sympathy over at Citi Field, either.