The Madoffs’ Palm Beach estate, the white-roofed buildings near the top of the photo, is looking like it’ll become Mrs. Madoff’s HQ.
While her husband is entering a decidedly less lavish living arrangement, it appears that Ruth Madoff is getting ready to live the Palm Beach life in her $9.4 million spread in Florida—a state known for property laws that protect owners from losing their homes even when other assets are seized.
Meanwhile, ABC reports that sons Andrew and Mark, the family’s junior set, are also under official scrutiny and may have to pay back $30 million they borrowed from Papa Madoff over the past four years.
Ruth Madoff applied for and received a homestead exemption for property taxes, said Dorothy Jacks, assistant property appraiser for Palm Beach County. The Florida constitution protects homeowners who have obtained the exemption and seizing the property may be difficult, said Danaya Wright, a law professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
The U.S. government said this week it plans to seize assets including the Madoffs’ $7 million Manhattan apartment and the Palm Beach home. Bernard Madoff, 70, was jailed March 12 after admitting to masterminding the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. The exemption Ruth Madoff received may be an effort to protect the property from creditors, said Jack McCabe, founder of McCabe Research & Consulting LLC in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
“The two big drawing cards to Florida were sunshine and affordability,” McCabe said. “Now it’s for sunshine and the protection of your primary mansion.”