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Madoff Speaks

Posted on Mar 1, 2011
AP / Louis Lanzano

Mr. Misunderstood: Bernard Madoff exits Manhattan federal court in 2009.

It’s hard to believe that it has already been two years since the implosion of Bernie Madoff’s devastating Ponzi scheme, and it’s hard to comprehend why the fallen financier would choose this moment to unburden himself to New York magazine’s Steve Fishman (not much to lose, perhaps), whose interest in Madoff’s tale was piqued by Mark Madoff’s December suicide. Their resulting discussion is posted on the mag’s site—complete with audio clips of Madoff’s stories from prison.  —KA

New York:

In some ways, Madoff has not tried to evade blame. He has made a full confession, telling me again and again that nothing justifies what he did. And yet, for Madoff, that doesn’t settle the matter. He feels misunderstood. He can’t bear the thought that people think he’s evil. “I’m not the kind of person I’m being portrayed as,” he told me.

And so, sitting alone with his therapist, in the prison khakis he irons himself, he seeks reassurance. “Everybody on the outside kept claiming I was a sociopath,” Madoff told her one day. “I asked her, ‘Am I a sociopath?’?” He waited expectantly, his eyelids squeezing open and shut, that famous tic. “She said, ‘You’re absolutely not a sociopath. You have morals. You have remorse.’?” Madoff paused as he related this. His voice settled. He said to me, “I am a good person.”

There aren’t many who would agree. For most of the world, Bernie Madoff is a monster; he betrayed thousands of investors, bankrupted charities and hedge funds. On paper, his Ponzi scheme lost nearly $65 billion; the effects spread across five continents. And he brought down his own family with him, a more intimate kind of betrayal.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, March 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment

I submit to you that Bernard Madoff has been unfairly maligned.  In actuality Madoff with his pyramid fund is no different than Warren Buffett with his Berkshire-Hathaway fund.  On one hand. Madoff used money from new investors to pay old investors and when the scheme collapsed the newest investors essentially had their money stolen.  On the other hand, Buffett uses his hedge funds to steal money from the government by avoidance of taxes.  One is illegal while the other is legal, though I’m not sure which one is really worse!

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By gerard, March 1, 2011 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment

Understand this pitiful, weak obsessive/compulsive personality and we can get a handle on Wall Street and a whole lot more. Putting a disease in jail is really not much of an answer when you get right down to it.

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By Steve E, March 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

Has he threatened to write a book yet? Can he write one behind bars? Whats with
the therapist crap, do felons get therapists? Is he in one of those country club
institutions for non violent criminals?

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By Steve E, March 1, 2011 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

If the Repugs get in the Whitehouse again it will be pardon time. Then again
Obama might…...

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By samosamo, March 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment


He could get out but he also hurt too many affluent clients
which is why he was busted. It would be hard to believe he hasn’t
salted enough to live a quite nice life should he be able to buy
his freedom. After all the courts these days are looking to enrich
themselves for ‘decision making’.

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By Richard_Ralph_Roehl, March 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment


The Amerikan corn-$yrup people are an exceptionally stupid lot! And this is why they’ll vote (alleged-lie) to replace Mr. Obama, a “lousy house nigger” for corp-rat banksters in the Wall $treet casino, with… PRESIDENT JEB!(Bush) and Vice President Palin.

And President Bush III, of course, will privatize (meaning corp-ratize) everything… including the traffic lights. Think about it, clowns! Think about privately owned traffic lights and privately own streets… and privately own prisons, etc.

So… what’s it gonna be? Are we going to in-HEIL! to the Chief Rat in the Oval Orifice? Or shall we inhale him from our boobtube footballing couches? Not that it matters! Rome is burning!

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prisnersdilema's avatar

By prisnersdilema, March 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

The exchange with his so called therapist was very telling.

” I am a good person”, LOL..

Sociopaths can rationalize anything…

I’m actually surprised, that he hasn’t faked his own death, at this point, and is enjoying Margarita’s, in Patagonia, with Ken Lay..

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By rollzone, March 1, 2011 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

hello. while i agree he spews a clever tactic to reduce
incarceration, his devious intent devastated many too
elderly to recover. hearing sour grapes regarding
investors in his scheme being too greedy, only says he
learned his lesson and wants to do it better the next
time. if he died in prison, that is not enough to
curtail Wall Street shenanigans, but it could bring
some healing to those he hurt.

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By Steve E, March 1, 2011 at 5:30 am Link to this comment

Really, “it’s hard to comprehend why the fallen financier would choose this
moment to unburden himself”. I’ll tell you why. He thinks he can get out, and he
probably will, once certain people and corporations get nervous about his born
again revelations. Don’t forget this guy has still got cash stashed to lubricate the
needy. Oh, he will get out.

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