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The Madoff Tapes

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Andrew had always seemed more stoic, more cerebral, less anxious, and surviving cancer had toughened him further. He had the support of his fiancée, Catherine Hooper, who’d moved in with him four days before his father’s confession. She didn’t know Madoff and so didn’t take the betrayal personally. She wouldn’t let Andrew stay still. Two days after his father’s admission to his sons, Andrew kept a lunch appointment, at her insistence. With her encouragement, he unplugged his cable and surrounded himself with friends. The weekend after the arrest, he and Hooper invited people to their apartment on the Upper East Side.

Mark, more sensitive, joined in his brother’s fury, but less confidently, less assured of his feelings. He’d always been more dependent on the goodwill of others and more dependent on his father’s good opinion, too. “He respected his father to the 10,000th degree,” a friend explained. “Don’t forget, everyone made a fortune because of Mark’s father. Mark got respect too because of his father.” Now he suffered for his father’s betrayal, and it was all the more excruciating because of how it unfolded. A person close to Mark explained what was going through his head: “Here’s my loving father, whom I loved and who stole my money and destroyed my life, put me into a criminal inquiry, put all my assets in a mess. And on top of that, I have to live with the fact that I sent him to jail.”

Mark developed an addiction to news about his father’s case and the family’s troubles, and that made it almost impossible for him to move forward. Andrew could only do so much before losing his temper. “Shut off your fucking computer,” he told his brother. But Mark couldn’t. And so, says a close friend, “he saw the world’s perception of him through the eyes of these hateful people.”

“Everyone was greedy. believe me, if you don’t think they had doubts, they had doubts.”

Mark’s wife, who was pregnant at the time of the arrest and feeling vulnerable, was as furious as her husband. She changed her last name and that of their two children, citing death threats. Mark understood and urged his oldest children from a previous marriage—they are 16 and 18—to change theirs. (They refused.) It was a practical step, since even picking up a prescription at the pharmacy could provoke ugly comments. “You can’t understand the daily indignity of being a Madoff,” said a family friend.

Andrew reacted differently, deploying his anger almost as a shield. He handed waiters his credit card. Yes, I’m the son, he said, almost daring people to confront him. “Changing my name doesn’t change who I am,” he told a friend. Mark, though, was no longer sure who he was supposed to be. He desperately wanted to get back on his feet financially. He had two young children—the second was born in February 2009—and prided himself on being a provider. The trustee had filed a lawsuit against him, demanding $66.9 million, and, like his brother, Mark was required to report a monthly list of expenditures to the trustee. (Andrew is being sued for $60.6 million.) For a time, Mark deluded himself that he could still work in the securities industry. He even sent out letters, only to confirm what he already knew: The Madoff name is toxic. “The world hates us,” he often said. Later, he started a newsletter for the real-estate industry that was gaining traction. Nothing, though, could extinguish his sense of shame. “He apologized to us,” said one investor and friend. “No matter what you told him, he still felt guilty. He shouldn’t have felt it, but he did. He felt terrible, responsible.”

And then the family that had for so long been a source of pleasure and support was gone. The boys had cut off their mother—a situation for which Madoff blames the lawyers but which was also the boys’ preference. A friend asked Andrew if he thought his mother knew about the scheme. “It doesn’t matter,” he answered. “Look how she behaved after it came out.” She’d had a choice, and she stood at Bernie’s side. For Andrew, the separation was painful, but Mark may have felt the loss more deeply. “Not seeing my parents is horrible,” he told a friend. He could have reached out to her—she wanted to see him. But he wouldn’t. “He was dealing with so much pain that getting together with his mother again was going to bring more pain,” said a person close to the family. “I just think she was the closest thing to his father. He was working really hard to get through his days and deal with what he had to do. I’m not saying he didn’t want to [talk to her]. He wasn’t ready to.”


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