Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Greed and Grandchildren: The Madoff Legacy

Bernie Madoff has been called on the world's most hated people for the $64 billion he stole in his major ponzie schemes. But that just money. I've felt minimal sympathy for his victims who were looking for a get rich quick scheme.

The real crime and suffering he caused was to his own family, and the ripples have left his two grandchildren fatherless and without contact with their paternal grandfather or grandmother. All for greed.

Stephanie Madoff Mack, 37, was married to Bernie's son Mark. Widowed with two children, she is releasing  a book in which she describes the pain Bernie's crimes - or more accurately his scandalous admission and imprisonment for 150 years - caused his son. Mark was so devastated he killed himself leaving a note making it clear that it was a direct result of his father's actions.

"I hate Bernie Madoff," said the Madoff Mack widowed daughter-in-law. "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."

hanged himself in December 2010 inside their SoHo apartment while their 2-year-old son, Nicholas, slept nearby. Mark Madoff, 46, had committed suicide while Mack and their daughter Audrey were away at Disney World.

Mack wrote that her husband struggled to keep it together emotionally -- although he had previously tried to kill himself in 2009 by trying to overdose on Ambien sleeping pills after the Ponzi scheme had been uncovered in December 2008.

She also said she has cut all contact with the children's grandmother, honoring her late husband's wishes.

How sad that these innocent children who already lost a parent are also being kept from their grandmother. How sad the toll being paid by Ruth Madoff, Bernie's wife of 52 years who divorced Bernie in August. She had not visited him since Mark took his life.

I would hope that with all the pain this family has suffered that grandmother and grandchildren could be reconciled. Ruth, who has already lost her son, does not deserve the punishment she is being dealt to be denied access to her grandchildren, nor do those children need to loose her.

Stephanie is understandably angry. Suicide leaves a legacy of anger and blame. In this case the blame is clear and justified as is the intensity of her anger. But why extend it to Ruth when the two women could instead help one another cope with the loss of the man they both loved, Mark and enjoy his children.

More importantly, why make the children suffer additional lost?


Robin said...

Since Stephanie Madoff Mack said she was honoring her late husband's wishes there may have been very good reasons for his wanting his immediate family to cut off all ties with his mother. I don't think at this point that anyone outside of the family knows enough about how much Ruth did or did not know or how much she was or wasn't involved. I can't totally agree with your assessment of this situation, I think there are still too many unknowns.

Mirah Riben said...


I agree there is more that we do not know and that Mark nay have had reasons to cut his mother off...

I still feel badly for a grandmother being disallowed to see her grandchildren and children who have lost so much family! it is still sad no matter if it valid or not.

Many people who were told that a parent deserted, for instance, or were abusive or whatever still want to meet and know them.

Anonymous said...

No, Madoff's "worst crimes" were against the charities and individuals he defrauded, not his family, who may or may not all have been complicit in his crimes, but all benefited for many years. Their loss was only that he got caught, not that he defrauded so many. Tragedies within the family are more the chickens continuing to come home to roost. Save your sympathy.

Mirah Riben said...


I respect your right to your opinion, however, I put a far higher value on family connections that money. Losing money? That can be replaced. Family cannot!

I write as one who has lost the ability to have contact with my only grandson, after losing both my parents and my eldest child. I would have given have any amount of money to have my daughter and grandson. Money. Things. All meaningless in the least for me.

Anonymous said...

He didn't kill himself, he was whacked. Somebody sent a message to Madoff. Killing his son was more painful to Bernie than killing Bernie himself. More than Bernie knew about this. It is plain ignorant to suggest otherwise. Everyone just looked the other way as the money kept rolling in. It wasn't like this was the counsin of Bernie Madoff that got whacked, it was him. If you doubt what I am saying, just remeber Ken Lay from Enron killed himself long after everything was exposed. Crooks don't have honor, they don't comit suicide. They get whacked because they stole your money.

Anonymous said...

Money cannot always be replaced. Many Madoff victims were retired, they won't be replacing their money anytime soon.

Also try telling your Landlord or the Bank that holds your mortgage that money isn't important. You may just end up homeless.

Presumably given unlimited quantities of money, most Birthmothers would not need to give up their children for adoption.

Mirah Riben said...

All you say is true. I still feel badly for these family members who are being torn apart by this. And I feel especially sad for innocent children who have lost so much nd are being kept from their grandma - not by THEIR choice!

You know, money doesn't always fix everything and can create problem as well. Steve Jobs died without meeting his father, because his father was afraid of appearing to want something from his very wealthy son.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Mirah is projecting her own situation on Stephanie keeping her children from seeing their grandmother in accordance with her dead husband's wishes ... and thinks that if Stephanie could do that perhaps she could again see her own grandchildren. I think not, anymore than she should take her children into prison to visit Bernie. Ruth and Bernie made their bed and now they can lie in it until the RIP. Move on Mirah. Same thing happens every day when one divorced parent no longer allows children to visit the other parent or grand parents. Normally one side or the other is evil in their purpose but in Madoff's case it was Bernie along with Ruth's loyalty to him over her much more honest sons that has led to this situation. It is of their own making and therefore is just.

Mirah Riben said...

Yes, it does happen in divorce and it's WRONG! It is wrong to keep a child from a parent. It is not about whether Bernie and Ruth have a "right" to see their grandchildren. It is about the RIGHTS of the grandchildren to see and know their ancestors.

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