Ruth Madoff: What Did Bernie’s Wife Know?

On Dec. 10, according to a court filing by the Madoffs’ lawyer, Mr. Madoff admitted to his wife and their two sons that his multibillion-dollar hedge fund was an elaborate Ponzi scheme. If that is true, Ruth Madoff learned of her husband’s crimes as suddenly as the rest of the world. One day, she was married to a stock-market genius, the next she was married to one of history’s great con men.

That, anyway, is the official Madoff version of events. At this point, as a mess that Mr. Madoff himself is said to have estimated at $50 billion lands in litigation, the main characters aren’t talking. In the absence of direct answers, all that’s left is the sort of psychological puzzle that belongs in Act II of a David Mamet drama, right before we find out who are the players and who are the played.

Was Mrs. Madoff really blindsided? In the social circles where the couple once traveled, both possibilities are unnerving — that Ruth Madoff was in on this, or that she wasn’t. If she isn’t a confederate, after all, then she arguably should be counted among Bernard Madoff’s victims. Either way, wittingly or not, she was an essential asset to her husband, humanizing him and drawing people into his orbit.

“All I will say on the subject is that it’s hard to imagine that she could live with the guy for 50 years and have no inkling,” says Donald Rosenzweig, a childhood friend of Ruth’s and an investor in Madoff Investment Securities. “Could she attract people to him? Yes. Was she out there shilling for him? I doubt it. But maybe.”

Federal prosecutors have not charged Mrs. Madoff with any crimes, and though she is currently living with her husband, who is under house arrest in their Upper East Side penthouse, she can come and go as she pleases. She has surrendered her passport and agreed to a deal with the United States attorney’s office that freezes her assets and grants her an undisclosed monthly allowance for living expenses, the cost of security for the couple and legal fees. The conditions of bail for Mr. Madoff include a $10 million bond secured by homes in Mrs. Madoff’s name. (huffingtonpost)

Ruth Madoff: What Did Bernie’s Wife Know?

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