Madoff with the Money

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John Wiley & Sons, Aug 6, 2009 - Business & Economics - 272 pages
An intriguing look at Bernie Madoff the man, and his scam

Madoff with the Money is a deeply disturbing portrait of Bernie Madoff based on dozens of exclusive, news-making interviews. From the values Madoff was taught growing up in the working class town of Laurelton, Queens to his high-life on Wall Street and the super-rich enclaves of Palm Beach and the French Riviera, bestselling author Jerry Oppenheimer follows the disgraced money manager's trail as he works his way up the social and economic ladder, and eventually scams his trusting clients in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

Through Oppenheimer's in-depth reporting, you'll discover new revelations in this startling case, and become familiar with the trusting victims-ranging from non-profit Jewish charities to the likes of seemingly sophisticated individuals such as actress Jane Fonda who would "like to shake Madoff until his teeth fall out," the scion of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream empire who lost a bundle and was forced to rent out rooms in his house, and New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg. There's even Madoff's own sister-in-law and talk show host Larry King, who apparently didn't ask the right questions when he invested. All lost their much-needed life savings, while others saw fortunes small and large evaporate in the greedy financial operations of one of history's all-time charlatans.

Madoff With the Money

  • Delves into the details of the illusive man that lost investors billions
  • Weaves stories of Madoff's past with those of the present in an engaging and accessible style
  • Explores how the financial scam that Madoff ran cost individuals and institutions billions of dollars
  • Other titles by Oppenheimer: Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel, and Just Desserts: Martha Stewart the Unauthorized Biography

While there may be other books on the Bernie Madoff debacle, none digs as deep or goes as far to uncover the truth behind the man, and his incredible scam.


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For some reason the sheer scale of this fraud caused me to become obsessed with this story. What I found most riveting was that the biggest thief of all (Picower) managed to escape much scrutiny (although his wife recently returned the 7.2 billion he took out in excess of what he put in). This book is clearly a quick patchwork quilt put out to capture the market before the time value of the Madoff option expired. There are numerous editorial errors (such as missing quotes in many places). Further, as mentioned by one of the other reviewers, there is quite a bit of repetition. Nonetheless, the author interviewed many old school chums and acquaintances of Bernie's who had some minor insights into his character. Some of this information I had not read anywhere else. Where the author falls apart is in synthesizing the assembled portrait into any kind of a deeper analysis. Further, he glides over some of the most fascinating aspects of the story that still have not been revealed. How soon did Picower discover that Bernie was running a Ponzi scheme and thereby exact his share? Was Picower (by far the biggest beneficiary of the scheme) really the brains behind the scam? How did Chais and Merkin, among others, manage to produce false statements to savvy investors for so dang long? Further Oppenheimer paints a rather benign picture of the brother and sons and never delves into their guilt. When all the facts are put together, the only conclusions one can draw are that Peter, Andrew and Mark Madoff were either mind numbingly dumb or willfully complicit. Read Harry Makopoulos's memo to the SEC where he essentially mathematically proves that Madoff is running a Ponzi scheme. One of the facts that comes out is that with his purported volume of trades on some days he might have represented almost 50% of the volume in some equities. Why weren't Andy and Mark getting that business? This point is especially powerful in the last few years of the fraud when the market was collapsing and the "legitimate" business was being subsidized by the Ponzi scheme. If the son's "legitimate" business was sucking wind why wasn't Dad diverting his millions of trades to them? I could go on, but Oppenheimer never engages in any analysis based upon these facts.
Final analysis - if you are already conversant with the majority of the story there isn't much more here other than some information about Bernie's younger years. The most revealing information being the early years on Wall Street and interactions with real gangsters, incompetents and unethical traders. My opinion is that his Ponzi scheme was based on pure ego at first (since my guess is that he wasn't a very good trader but had a burning desire to be perceived as one). Later, he became addicted to the adulation and power and Picower became addicted to the money and effectively blackmailed Madoff into continuing.

Review: Madoff with the Money

User Review  - Lee Sacco - Goodreads

Very good read. I am looking for more about him and what has happened to the rest of his family and the rest of the money. Read full review


Growing Up a Madoff
Bernie Hobnobs with the Wealthy StrongArms Some Pals
Tying the Knot and Giving Uncle Sam the Business
Moving On
Whatever You Do Kid Never Invest a Penny in the Stock Market
ICAhapter1O A Madoff Speaks Out and an Empty Promise
Life inside the Madoff Piggy Bank Flashing the Plastic and Chapter 13 A Family and Sometimes an Office Affair

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About the author (2009)

Jerry Oppenheimer has written eight biographies of major American icons, from Martha Stewart and Barbara Walters to the Clintons and Kennedys, and has worked in all facets of journalism, from national investigative reporting in Washington, D.C., to producing TV news and documentaries. He's quoted in magazines such as Vanity Fair and is a frequent guest on national TV interview and syndicated magazine shows, including Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Anderson Cooper 360, Nancy Grace, BBC News, Fox News, and more. He is the author of Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel, also from Wiley.

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