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How to make $65 billion disappear. That’s $65,000,000,000 . This is the very puzzling story of Bernard Madoff . How did he do it?. Prepared by Gary Simon, December 2008 – January 2009 Last update 29 JUNE 2009. The events were described as a Ponzi scheme.

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How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

How to make $65 billion disappear.

That’s $65,000,000,000.

This is the very puzzling story of Bernard Madoff. How did he do it?

Prepared by Gary Simon, December 2008 – January 2009

Last update 29 JUNE2009.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

The events were described as a Ponzi scheme.

This scheme pays off claims by old investors with the money from new investors. It works as long as there are plenty of new investors.

But where did the name “Ponzi scheme” come from?


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

The scheme is named for Carlo (Charles) Ponzi.

He was born in Italy in 1882 and came to the United States in 1903. He worked as a dishwasher in Boston, and he came up with his scheme in 1919.

Businesses often ask for SASEs, self-addressed stamped envelopes, to mail things back to you.

But. . . what if the correspondence goes to another country? How can you get your letter back from (say) England if you don’t have English postage stamps?


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

You could send your envelope with an international reply coupon good for postage in the target country.

This was at a fixed cost in the United States and was aimed at the first class postage category. Other countries did the same thing.

Ponzi realized that the postage rates varied by country. Thus, a coupon could be purchased in another country at less than its value in the United States.

This presented an arbitrage opportunity!


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Here is a modern version of these coupons.

The Universal Postal Union of 1874 is an arrangement in which the countries of the world agree to carry each other’s mail. The coupons are a byproduct of that agreement.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Here are more.

Yes…. people collect these things.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Ponzi started a company called Securities Exchange Company to trade in these coupons.

Yes…. that’s S.E.C.

He promised high rates of return to investors. Early investors were paid with money from new investors. No investment ever took place.

For all we know, Ponzi never purchased more than a handful of international reply coupons.

He may have generated as much as $15M in investments from thousands of investors in 1919 and 1920.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

This fell apart after about eight months, when the redemptions ran ahead of the new investments.

Ponzi served several years in jail.

He was deported back to Italy in 1934.

He eventually ended up in Brasil, where he died in poverty in 1949.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

It was absurd to believe that anyone would have the patience and organizational structure to convert a few cents of arbitrage advantage into a large functioning investment scheme. This was especially absurd in 1919!

Madoff’s scheme was much more credible.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

The list of losers from the Madoff scheme is long. It includes

J. Ezra Merkin (chairman of GMAC)

Fred Wilpon (Sterling Equities, principal owner of the

New York Mets); $500M

Norman Braman (once owned Philadelphia Eagles)

Fairfield Greenwich Group (hedge fun advisory firm); $7.5B

Yeshiva University; $100M to $110M

Stephen J. Helfman (Miami lawyer whose father opened account

thirty years ago, now dealing with aging grandmother)Sam Englebardt (media investor in Los Angeles with several

relatives giving all to Madoff)

New York Times, 13 DEC 2008, Alex Berenson, Diana B. Henriques, Zachery Kouwe, Stephanie Strom and New York Times, 13 DEC 2008, Stephanie Strom, Javier C. Hernandez, Eric Konigsberg, Christine Haughney, Glenn Collins.

Other sources supply this information as well.

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Many losers from the world of sports. . .

Wilpon and Braman (just mentioned)

Tim Teufel, former infielder with the New York Mets

Sandy Koufax, Hall of Fame pitcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers

Bob Nystrom, New York Islanders hockey team (and he had three accounts with Madoff)

Ray Floyd, professional golfer (who also lost in a Ponzi scheme by K.L. Financial of Florida in 2006)

Sports Illustrated, 16 FEB 2009, page 18.

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

A woman in Brooklyn (father just died and much of stepmother’s

money was with Madoff)

Law school official in Massachusetts (lost millions)

Bramdean Alternatives (London asset manager run by Nicola

Horlick had stock drop 36% after announcing that it

had 10% of its money with Madoff)

New York Times, 13 DEC 2008, Alex Berenson, Diana B. Henriques, Zachery Kouwe, Stephanie Strom. Other sources supply this information as well.

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Irwin Kellner had $2M in an IRA and another account with Madoff.

He’s the chief economist for MarketWatch.com, and he is an

economics scholar at Dowling College. He is a lead

plaintiff in a lawsuit.

Newsday, 13 DEC 2008, Carrie Mason-Draffen, James Bernstein, Patricia Kitchen. Other sources report this information as well.

Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey; undisclosed amount

Arvam and Carol Goldberg, former owners of Stop&Shop;

portion of their $29M charitable trust

Lawrence Velvel, dean of Mass. School of Law; millions

Stephen A. Fine, president of Biltrite; undisclosed

Jerome Fisher, founder of Nine West; $150M

New York Post, 14 DEC 2008, sidebar. Other sources report this information as well.

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Joyce Greenberg of Houston. In 1987 she and her husband Jacob sent $1M

to Madoff to invest. Jacob died in1995, but Joyce continued to

dip into money for charitable causes. Now she and her 96‑year‑old mother‑in‑law are out tens of millions. (Madoff sent statements

replete with details of blue-chip transactions. )

This shows the canceled original $1,000,000 check.

New York Post, 14 DEC 2008, Todd Venezia. This information appears in other media as well.

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Carl Shapiro, founder of Kay Windsor; $400M

Robert Jaffe, son-in-law of Carl Shapiro; undisclosed

Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation; $145M

Richard Spring, Boca Raton, former security analyst; $11M

Ira Roth, New Jersey; $1M

Stephen Abbott, San Francisco lawyer; several hundred thousand

Loeb family; undisclosed

Town of Fairfield CT pension fund; $42M

Massachusetts state pension fund; $12M

Robert I. Lappin charitable foundation; $8M and forced to close

Maxam Capital Management; $280M and forced to close

New York Post, 14 DEC 2008, sidebar. Other sources report this information as well.

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Kingate Management; $2.8B

Ascot Partners; $1.8B

Pioneer Alternative Investments of Italy; nearly all of their $835M assets

Fix Asset Management of Greece; $400M

Tremont Capital Management; hundreds of millions

Bramdean Alternatives Limited of England; 9% of its portfolio

Nomura Holdings of Japan; $302M

Banque Benedict Hentsch, Geneva; $47.5M

NeuePrivat Bank, Zurich; undisclosed

BNP Paribas, France; undisclosed

New York Post, 14 DEC 2008, sidebar. Other sources report this information as well, including Newsday, 16 DEC 2008, James Bernstein, Tom Incantalupo, Karla Schuster

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Kingate Management of Bermuda; part of its $2.8B

North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System ; $5.7M

Julian J. Levitt Foundation of Texas

New York-based Access International; undisclosed amount

New York Post, 14 DEC 2008, Lukas I. Alpert, James Fanelliand Newsday,16 DEC 2008, James Bernstein, Tom Incantalupo, Karla Schuster.

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Banco Santander of Spain; Geneva subsidiary Optimal Investment Services

lost $3.1B; this is identified as a fund of hedge funds ( ! )

Various members of the Palm Beach Country Club

Mort Zuckerman, publishing of the Daily News and real estate magnate; $30M

Other Swiss institutions, including BanqueBénédictHentsch (about $48M)

and NeuePrivat Bank

New York Times, 15 DEC 2008, Diana B. Henriques, Alex Berenson, Eric Dash, Jennifer 8. Lee, Zachery Kouwe, Michael J. de la Merced. Nelson D. Schwartz and Newsday, 16 DEC 2008, James Bernstein, Tom Incantalupo, Karla Schuster.

But there’s a nice afternote for Banco Santander. On January 28, 2009, Emilio Botin, the president of Santander, offered to reimburse $1.82B that its private investment clients lost.

Newsday, 30 JAN 2009

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity; $37M

Steven Spielberg Wunderkind Foundation (supports Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Chabad charity Children of Chernobyl)

Royal Bank of Scotland; $600M

Newsday, 16 DEC 2008, James Bernstein, Tom Incantalupo, Karla Schuster and New York Times, Stephanie Strom, Javier C. Hernandez, Eric Konigsberg, Christine Haughney , Glenn Collins and Bloomberg News, Suzanne Plunkett.

JEHT Foundation (to promote justice, equality, human dignity, tolerance),

Started in 2002 by Jeanne Levy-Church, but based on investments

made 30 years ago by her father Norman Levy. Gave away

$75M over these years. Will close by the end of January, 2009.

Innocence Project

Supported by JEHT to use DNA evidence to exonerate

innocent prisoners.

New York Times, 16 DEC 2008. Stephanie Strom, Javier C. Hernandez, Eric Konigsberg, Christine Haughney, Glenn Collins.

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Ramaz School, a Jewish modern Orthodox prep school in Manhattan; $6M

Jewish Federation of Greater Washington; $10M

Jewish Community Centers Association of North America; undetermined

Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Boston and Jewish Federation of

Palm Beach (through Carl and Ruth Shapiro Foundation); $145M, about 45% of its assets

SAR Academy, a Jewish school in the Bronx; $1.2M, a third of its assets

Chais Family Foundation in Encino, California

BNP Paribas; did not invest directly in Madoff funds but still

had $500M at risk in trades and loans with hedge funds

Swiss bank Reichmuth; $327M potential losses

HSBC made loans to institutions that invested with Madoff; $1B

New York Times, 15 DEC 2008, Diana B. Henriques, Alex Berenson, Eric Dash, Jennifer 8. Lee, Zachery Kouwe, Michael J. de la Merced. Nelson D. Schwartz and Newsday, 16 DEC 2008, James Bernstein, Tom Incantalupo, Karla Schuster.

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

The Picower Foundation, established by Barbara and Jeffrey Picower in

Palm Beach, Florida, in 1989, will be closing down. It had about $1B in assets. It supported

Picower Institute for Memory and Learning at M.I.T.

Human Rights First

New York Public Library

Children’s Health Fund

City Parks Foundation

School District of Palm Beach County

Jewish Outreach Institute

Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York Times, Saturday, 20 DEC 2008, Geraldine Fabrikant

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Actor Kevin Bacon; amount unspecified

He has been in more than 60 movies, going all the

way back to Animal House in 1978. You may

remember him in movies like Footloose, Mystic

River, Quicksilver, A Few Good Men, and many others.

www.marketwatch.com, 31 DEC 2008, reported earlier in New York Magazine.

He is also famous for the “degrees of Kevin Bacon” party game. We don’t know if he met Madoff face-to-face, but the degree of separation number is almost certainly two or less.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Henry Kaufman; several million dollars

He is a former chief economist of Salamon

Brothers.

Kaufman claims that this is just a small percent

of his worth.

He received his BA in economics from New York

University in 1948.

www.marketwatch.com, 31 DEC 2008, Alistair Barr and Michelle Donley.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Mr. Kaufman has a long association with New York University. He is a major donor to the Stern School of Business, and the Kaufman Management Center, 44 West Fourth Street, was constructed from his very generous gift.

NYU Picture Bank, photo by Deb Rothenberg

These stories are getting too close for comfort. . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Sonja Kohn of Bank Medici in Vienna, amount unknown

Mrs. Kohn was a channel for eastern European investors . Many of her clients were wealthy Russians.

New York Times, 6 JAN 2009, Nelson D. Schwartz and Julia Werdigier.

. . . and more . . .


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Walter M. Noel Jr., Fairfield Greenwich Group; about $7.5B, half the

firm’s assets

Noel’s relationship with Madoff earned his firm millions of dollars in fees. One of FGG’s strongest selling points for its largest fund was its access to Mr. Madoff.

Photo from New York Times, 17 NOV 2008.

New York Times, 15 DEC 2008, Diana B. Henriques, Alex Berenson, Eric Dash, Jennifer 8. Lee, Zachery Kouwe, Michael J. de la Merced. Nelson D. Schwartz and Newsday, 16 DEC 2008, James Bernstein, Tom Incantalupo, Karla Schuster.

. . . That’s all for now. But there will be more!


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Of course there will be more! Just note that

$10,000,000  6,500 = $65,000,000,000

If we’re thinking of individual investors losing around $10M, then there could be 6,500 of them.

Some lost more than $10M, but quite a few lost smaller amounts.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

By early February 2009, the investigation had gone far enough to give us a list of names.

The list ran to about 160 pages, with 13,567 names in all.

Diana B. Henriques, New York Times, 5 FEB 2009.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Some of the big players were feeders that channeled money from other investors to Madoff’s fund.

The Fairfield Greenwich Group charged clients

annual fee of 1 percent of assets, invested

20 percent on investment gains each year

J. Ezra Merkin and his Ascot Partners

annual fee of 1.5 percent of assets invested

Gerald Breslauer, financial adviser in Los Angeles invested on behalf of Steven Spielberg

and Jeffrey Katzenberg

Sonja Kohn, Bank Medici in Vienna


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Walter Noel, 78, ran the Fairfield Greenwich Group. He has a master’s degree in economics and a law degree, both from Harvard.

Noel and Madoff met in the early 1980s.

Walter Noel was a charming salesman. He directed clients’ money to Madoff’s fund.

Mr. Noel’s largest fund, the $7.3 billion Fairfield Sentry fund, invested exclusively with Mr. Madoff.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Mr. Noel has not disclosed how much of that was his own or belonged to family members and how much was his investors’. One of his daughters said, through a spokeswoman at Rubenstein Public Relations, that “a very substantial part of each family member’s personal assets was invested with Bernard Madoff alongside those of our investors.”

The Fairfield Greenwich Group promised due diligence. Michael Markov, a hedge fund consultant, looked into Fairfield Sentry’s investments with Madoff and found that it was “statistically impossible to replicate them.”

Mr. Markov said that he found only one hedge fund whose returns correlated to Mr. Madoff’s. That was the Bayou fund, which was prosecuted by the government for fraud in 2006.

New York Times, 17 DEC 2008, Eric Konigsberg, William K. Rashbaum, Steven Labaton.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Another channel to Madoff was J. Ezra Merkin, 54.

Both Madoff and Merkin were trustees at

New York’s Yeshiva University. Both have

now stepped down from the board.

Yeshiva University lost $110M, which was 8%

of its endowment, through Merkin and his Ascot

Partners.

What’s Yeshiva University? This is a good analogy:

Jewish : Yeshiva : : Catholic : Notre Dame


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

The other members of Yeshiva’s board did not know that Merkin had moved Ascot’s entire share of the endowment to Madoff’s fund.

Why would Merkin not spread the investment money around? According to acquaintances, “Ezra would ask, ‘Why would you reduce your concentration in your best performing fund?’ ”


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Both Madoff and Merkin are now off the Yeshiva board.

Merkin also served as chair of the investment committee of UJA, the United Jewish Appeal.

The UJA, however, has a policy that prohibits committee members from directing funds. Thus, they had no money in Merkin’s Ascot Partners.

It’s good to know that someone understands conflict of interest.

The New York Jewish Week, 19 Dec 2008, Gary Rosenblatt.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

On 29 December 2008, the Federal government moved five billion dollars to help GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corporation) remain solvent. The chairman of GMAC is . . . .

J. Ezra Merkin

www.thecuttingedgenews.com, www.reuters.com, www.thestreet.com, and other sites, 31 DEC 2008


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

An unfortunate casualty of the affair is Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, whocommited suicide.

Rene-Thierry, 65, was found dead at his desk in the New York office of Access International Advisors on Tuesday, 23 DEC 2008. Both of his wrists slashed. A box cutter and a bottle of sleeping pills lay nearby.

news.yahoo.com, 26 DEC 2008, from GREG KELLER, AP Business Writer


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Another suicide is from Britain. William Foxton, age 65, killed himself with a single bullet to the head on 10 FEB 2009.

Foxton was a former British Army major who had previously served in the French Foreign Legion.

His life savings had been invested in Herald USA Fund and Herald Luxemburg Fund. Each of these lost heavily through Madoff connections.

Newsday, 15 FEB 2009, page A31, Associated Press.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

So how did Madoff do it?

There were suspicious signs, but people kept investing anyhow. How did this go on for so long?


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Here are some suspicious signs.

There was an SEC investigation in 1992.

Madoff was cleared.

A Boston whistleblower tried to alert the SEC

in 1999. Nothing happened.

Barron’s asked questions in 2001 about his

operation.

Returns were relatively high, at about 10%

per year, but they were way too steady.

Madoff managed accounts inside his own firm.

Hedge funds, by comparison, use banks

and brokerage firms.  

 Only auditing firm was Friehling and Horowitz

of New City, a small firm.

New York Times, 13 DEC 2008, Alex Berenson, Diana B. Henriques, Zachery Kouwe, Stephanie Strom.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Was Madoff’s family involved?

Madoff is 70 years old. He worked with his sons Andrew, 42, and Mark, 44, and also his 62-year-old brother Peter.

Could they really have known nothing about the scheme?


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

On Wednesday, December 10, Bernard Madoff told two of his senior associated about the fraud. It is believed that those two senior associates are his sons. Andrew and Mark reported the fraud to the FBI the next day.

This makes it easy to believe that Bernard Madoff set up the details in this way to protect his sons.

His sons are not targets of the investigation.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

As an added complication, Madoff’s niece Shana Madoff (the daughter of his brother Peter) married Eric Swanson in 2007.

This is a big deal because Swanson worked as an SEC attorney and had some familiarity with the Madoff operation.

Swanson was not active with the SEC when he married Shana.

Every good story needs a romantic subplot.

Barbara Kollmeyer, www.marketwatch.com, 16 DEC 2008.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

The story will continue.

How long did this go on?

Who knew?

If Bernard himself ran the scheme, how many of

his associates and twenty-plus employees knew

about it?

By what accounting trickery was he able to send

out monthly statements to all his clients?

What made this fall apart? Were people starting

to redeem accounts in 2008 when the market

went south?


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Did we all move away from good sense? Did we believe that the real masters of the universe were not those who provided good and services, but rather those who shuffled around financial papers?

Don is retired, but he wants to keep working. He operates a Manhattan street cart, selling scarves and hats. “I’m a little different than those guys in the papers. I only try to sell you what you can see.”

New York Daily News, Monday, 15 DEC 2008, Mike Lupica.


How to make 65 billion disappear that s 65 000 000 000

Madoff is scheduled to be sentenced June 29, 2009.

His attorneys believe that an appropriate sentence would be 12 years.

The sentence will likely be longer, perhaps 150 years.

Bernard Madoff is now 71 years old. . .


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