Fiction might sometimes lead us to believe that the uncommon can only happen on TV, but truth be told, the most unbelievable events actually take place all the time in real life. The former describes the drama of the rise and downfall of the Madoffs, famous for their billionaire fraudulent activities, which ultimately led them to a sad end.
Though it was Bernie Madoff who actually started the whole scheme which took him behind bars, his wife Ruth was one of the most affected by it, and is still living the consequences of her family’s past wrongdoings.
So where is Ruth now? And what exactly happened to her husband and the rest of her family? Was she ever in prison, and did she lose her fortune? Keep with us to know all the details of Ruth Madoff and her sad and tragic life!
Where Is Ruth Today?
The story of the fraudulent rise and subsequent downfall of Bernie Madoff is not unknown to the general public. Whether people know about it by reading the news or thanks to the ABC miniseries “Madoff”, it’s certain that the case causes rage, indignation, and also brings up many questions regarding the whereabouts of Bernie’s family.
Needless to say, life for the now-widowed Ruth Madoff hasn’t been kind. Besides never divorcing Bernie, Ruth barely asserted the whole extent of his crimes after his arrest: ‘This is not the man I owned nine homes with. When you spend hundreds of millions of dollars with someone, you think you know him. I guess I was wrong’, she stated in a public letter.
A couple of years after her husband’s trial, Ruth reportedly changed her name and appearance, moving with family in Florida and then to Connecticut, where she’s apparently lived in a small Greenwich condo since 2017.
While details about Ruth’s well-being are unknown these days, her choice to keep her current life a secret is understandable given not only the scandal her family went through, but also due to the loss of her spouse Bernie, and two sons in the last decade.
What Did Her Husband Do?
Although the Bernie Madoff scandal was huge back in the day and thousands of people were negatively affected by his actions, the fact it has been so long since then might cause some details about the case to escape people’s memory.
There’s no way to simplify the nature of Bernie’s Ponzi scheme, one which he led through his company Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. and is considered one of the biggest financial scandals for swindling $65 billion from investors all around the world. It all started in the 1990s, when Bernie was a renowned stock broker and investor, respected for playing a key part in developing the technological platforms currently used in stock exchanges. However, right when the Gulf War caused the market to stall, he started the drastic pyramid scheme which changed many people’s lives forever: ‘I thought this would be only a short-term trade which could be made up once the market became receptive’, he said, through a 2013 email to CNBC.
Though according to investigators the scheme began in the 1970s, it’s for certain that Bernie continued his operations for decades, until 2008, when the financial crisis took a toll on his fraudulent business. Right there he confessed the crimes to his family, who turned him in, resulting in a 150-year sentence for Bernie, and the restitution of billions to his victims.
Bernie Madoff’s enormous fraud left behind a devastating human toll and paper losses totaling $64.8 billion. The architect of the largest Ponzi scheme in financial history, Madoff died in prison on Wednesday while serving a 150-year sentence. https://t.co/q20oFtFPbw
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 15, 2021
What Happened To Her Fortune?
Knowing the wicked nature of Bernie Madoff’s activities, it’s understandable that his family was on the end of a strong backlash. Some of the aspects more energetically judged about this case regards the management of the family’s finances in the aftermath, especially in the case of Ruth.
Prior to being discovered, Bernie and Ruth’s net worth was of theoretically over $138 million, allowing them to enjoy a life of luxury which included nine homes in the US and Europe, yachts, cars, fine art, jewelry and millions in cash and securities. That came to an end when their properties were seized during the trial, leaving her with $2.5 million instead of the $70 million requested by Bernie to leave in her name.
However, due to a $44 million lawsuit filed by lawyer Irving Picard, on behalf of the law firm BakerHostetler, she had to surrender all her remaining assets and settle the matter for $594,000 in 2019 – according to reports, she’s required to submit regular financial reports to Picard.
Aftermath & His Death
Bernie Madoff’s actions caused deep hurt to many people, some of whom lost all, and still haven’t found a way out of it nowadays. Meanwhile, the involvement of his family has been questioned from the start, as Ruth was seemingly in charge of the company’s books, and according to CNBC, the rest of the family held high positions in it.
While it was determined that Bernie’s loved ones were none the wiser about his decades-long scheme, five of his former employees were sentenced to prison for playing vital roles in his ponzi scheme. Bernie’s accountant David G. Friehling, was originally sentenced to over 100 years, but the case ultimately resulted in a fine and house detention instead.
That being said, in early 2020 Bernie had asked for compassionate release from jail, arguing he suffered from kidney disease, also lamenting his crimes and the suffering of his family in later conversations with The Washington Post: ‘You know I lost both my sons, and my wife is not really well. So it’s horrible. I was very close with my family. I made a terrible mistake’. His request was ultimately rejected by a federal judge; by the time Bernie died in prison on 14 April 2021, around $3.2 billion had been returned to his victims.
Bernie Madoff, mastermind of the largest financial scam in history that unraveled during the 2008 economic crisis, died…
What Happened To Their Sons?
While Bernie Madoff’s passing caused mixed feelings due to the nature of his crimes, his and Ruth’s sons Mark and Andrew had undeniably tragic ends.
10 December 2008 marked the date on which not only Bernie confessed his crimes to his family, but also lost direct contact with his oldest son Mark, who along with his brother reported his father’s scam to the police. At 46 years old, Mark committed suicide on 11 December 2010, the second anniversary of his father’s arrest. Mark’s body was found by the stepfather of his wife Stephanie, who was away in Florida, but had concerns about his well-being, after receiving worrying emails from her husband. Mark left behind four children, one of whom was asleep next door as he ended his life in the family’s Manhattan apartment.
Another tragedy hit the family four years later; Andrew died when 48-years-old, on 2 September 2014, after battling mantle cell lymphoma for several years. While not many details about Andrew’s will are known, it’s revealed his $15 million in assets was distributed between his two children, his estranged wife Deborah Anne West, and fiancée Catherine Hooper.
Who Else Died?
Ruth Madoff has also faced the backlash from the media, and especially from victims of the scheme, which is reportedly linked to the death of three people, besides that of her sons and husband.
The first reported case happened in December 2008, barely a week after Bernie’s arrest. A 65-year-old man named Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet comitted suicide in his Manhattan office. According to reports, Magon was a founding member of Access International Advisors, having connections to Bernie Madoff through the sub fund Luxalpha SICAV, which led to his company’s demise, with investments calculated at around $1.4 billion. According to ABC News, Magon suicide’s was related to ‘the pressure from the Madoff scandal’. The next year, a 65-year-old businessman named William Foxton killed himself with a gunshot in a West London park, leaving a suicide note which explained that he was trying to avoid bankruptcy after being scammed by Madoff.
Later, in March 2017, a businessman named Charles Murphy jumped from the 24th floor of the Sofitel New York Hotel, but left no suicide note. Although Murphy worked for another firm at the time of his death, the fact that his company Fairfield Greenwich was scammed by Madoff in 2008 for $7 billion, and his subsequent inability to sell his $33 million business, reportedly took a toll on his finances.
Where Are The Rest Of The Family?
Not only has life for Ruth been tragic since the deceiving ways of her husband were discovered, but the rest of the family hasn’t had it easy either. Ruth and Bernie’s daughters-in-law had to completely remake their lives. Mark’s widow Stephanie Mack, revealed all her misfortunes in the book “The End of Normal”, including the moment she found out about her husband’s death, and her efforts to continue her life afterwards: ‘I don’t want to get defined by Bernie Madoff and his crimes’, she told to The New York Post. She’s nowadays a stylist, and lives in Brooklyn.
Andrew’s fiancée Catherine Hooper was granted a $50,000 monthly support by his will, but the money apparently never came her way, and now she lives an austere life with their daughter. For her part, Andrew’s legal widow Deborah Anne West distanced herself from the family as well, including changing her name. Regarding Bernie and Ruth’s grandchildren, it’s known that the six of them changed their name too, and have avoided any association with their grandfather, who allegedly wrote them numerous letters from jail during his years of confinement.
Bernie’s brother Peter was probably the one who got the worst part of the deal, as he was sentenced to 10 years in jail – he was released in 2020.
Needless to say, Bernie Madoff’s millionaire scheme turned the world upside down for many people, but lots of questions regarding how everything came to that point are still unanswered, including how exactly the day on which the Madoff patriarch confessed his crimes to his family went on, is still a big mystery to almost everyone.
According to the book “The Madoff Chronicles” by Brian Ross, early December saw Bernie inform his sons that their company was struggling to meet the withdrawals requested by clients, which was alarming in itself, but didn’t indicate anything about the scheme. It wasn’t until 8 December that Bernie revealed the complete truth to his family.
Later that day, Madoff’s company celebrated their holiday party in a local restaurant, and according to witnesses, neither Bernie nor Ruth looked any different, even if the absence of the Madoff sons was notable. However, in a 2011 interview with CBS, Ruth revealed that she and Bernie had a pact to commit suicide after that December night party took place: ‘we decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening’, she revealed. Allegedly the couple consumed numerous pills of sedatives, but it didn’t affect them: ‘It was very impulsive, and I’m glad we woke up’, as Ruth admitted.
What Was Ruth & Bernie Story?
By the time the world knew Bernie Madoff had scammed thousands of people, he and Ruth had quite a stable and successful marriage which had lasted half a century.
Both natives from Queens in New York City, Ruth Alpern and Bernie Madoff met back in the 1950s, when both attended Far Rockaway High School. According to an extensive Vanity Fair investigation, Ruth was 14 years old when she met Bernie, and though she was described as a middle-class educated girl ‘destined for big things’, the adjectives weren’t as generous for Bernie: ‘there was something really creepy about him’, as affirmed to the magazine by Millie Tirado, a former classmate of Ruth.
Despite him being three years older than her, Bernie and Ruth promptly married as soon as Ruth was 18 years old in 1959, two years before she graduated with a Psychology degree from Queen’s College. Later in the 1990s, Ruth obtained a second degree in Nutrition, from New York University.
Despite having an educational background different from business, Ruth was allegedly her husband’s company bookkeeper in the early years, before taking care of their sons full-time. At some point she was apparently the company’s director as well, but her alleged lack of involvement with her husband’s illegal dealings is to this day, one of the biggest wonders in this case; it’s yet to be seen if something else will be discovered.