In the beginning, the Madoff investors were bound together by their tragedy. They comforted one another. Empathized. But as the details emerged of who lost what and who actually gained money, things started to change. “This is so big, and there are so many people situated differently,” a lawyer said to the Times one day. "Everybody is potentially averse to everybody else." Soon after, the fighting started. Dick Leventhal, 82, of Palm Beach, cast the first stone when he saw Marvin Zuckerman, 84, entering The Palm Beach Steakhouse on Bradley Place. "Having a nice dinner with my money, aren't you, Marvin?" he sneered. "This is my money!" Marvin snapped. "I didn't know the guy was a crook!" Dick jumped across the table and tore Marvin's arm right out of its socket. Blood spurted and a mob descended on it, hunger in their eyes. After that, the violence escalated. Factions were formed. There were nightly attacks. The government was powerless to stop it: "Everybody should be put on equal footing," they brayed, but who was going to listen to them? Those senior citizens who were fortunate enough to have pulled their money out of Madoff's clutches before he was arrested armed themselves with firearms and canned peaches and barricaded themselves behind pastel walls while angry mobs howled outside. Wars broke out. Pestilence. Then the troops came from Asia and gave everyone factory jobs and that was that.
Photo: Ruby Washington/New York Times/Redux