How Madoff's surviving son handles grief and scandal
Tuesday 21 December 2010
The fiancée of Bernard Madoff's surviving son has provided a glimpse of life in the shadow of history's biggest fraud, revealing how Andrew Madoff has thrown himself into music and new business ventures as a whirlwind of recrimination continues to swirl around him.
The intimate portrait presented by his fiancée, Catherine Hooper, comes in the wake of the suicide of Bernard Madoff's oldest son, Mark, on the second anniversary of the pyramid schemer's confession earlier this month. Andrew Madoff has been devastated by his brother's death and has sought solace with friends, Ms Hooper said. "They communicated as much as possible," she said. "But they weren't in the same place emotionally."
The Madoff sons are among dozens of people being pursued by a trustee working to recoup money for their father's victims. Both worked in parts of their father's business, though they have denied any knowledge of the secrets at the heart of his investment management division, which claimed to be managing $65bn (£42bn) on behalf of clients. All its investments were fictions, and thousands of people discovered that their retirement nest eggs do not exist.
Andrew Madoff has not spoken to his father since the day in December 2008 when, having been told the family business was based on lies, he called the FBI. Bernard Madoff was jailed last year for 150 years. The two sons have also cut off contact with their mother, Ruth Madoff.
Mark Madoff was found hanged in his Manhattan apartment on 11 December. The family name, he had told friends, and the cloud of suspicion had made it impossible for him to find work or to move on.
Andrew Madoff works as operations director for a business venture with his fiancée, called Black Umbrella, which helps families prepare for emergencies, such as a financial or physical crisis.
"You can still have a full life while remembering what really happened," Ms Hooper said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal about living with Andrew Madoff under the shadow of the family scandal. "When all of this happened, we decided that we weren't going to sit around all of the time with our laptops on our laps reading blogs. We were not going to sit around talking about how horrible this is. There are some things that are just going to be a disaster no matter what you have planned."
Andrew Madoff, she revealed, has been taking piano lessons and focusing on the couple's investment in a fly-fishing store, the venture that first brought them together. Mr Madoff is divorcing his first wife, Deborah, although financial negotiations have been complicated by the legal actions associated with his father's fraud. He must get trustee approval to spend more than $1,000, and must keep receipts for every expenditure over $500.
The bankruptcy trustee, Irving Picard, has so far recovered more than one-third of the estimated $20bn that clients actually handed Madoff to invest.
* Ruth Madoff: Enjoys a luxurious lifestyle despite surrendering $80m, leaving her with just $2.5m in cash. The only drawback: being ordered to clear all purchases over $100.
* Annette Bongiorno: Madoff's assistant for 40 years has refused to co-operate with investigators. The authorities are trying to recover the $14m she received from Madoff.
* Frank Dipascali: Madoff's chief financial officer "told all" in a plea bargain in August 2009. He admitted to knowing about the fraud for decades.
* Jeffrey Picower: Withdrew at least $5.1bn – more than Madoff himself – and drowned accidentally in 2009. Last week his estate was ordered to pay $7.2bn to compensate victims.
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