Bernard Madoff is not a sociopath and the U.S. government is a large Ponzi scheme, according to Bernard Madoff -- in New York Magazine. That's circular attribution, a nod to the business mastermind's years of roundabout manipulations.
The infamous schemer talked to a New York Magazine writer, and this week's resulting article is a peek into the mind of a forthcoming and emotional criminal who places blame both on himself and on the people and institutions he claims enabled him to manipulate billions of dollars.
Steve Fishman, who wrote the article, points out that Madoff used this as an opportunity to tell his estranged son that he is a good person. You can hear Fishman's phone conversations with Madoff here. (After several interview requests, when the reporter was at home one night, he received a collect call from Madoff.)
Two weeks ago, the New York Times published the first interview with Madoff since his arrest, resulting in a media circus around his assertions that certain banks and
hedge funds exhibited "willful blindness" when managing his fortune.
"They had to know," Madoff told the Times. "But the attitude was sort of, 'If you're doing something wrong, we don't want to know.'" The Times article is essential prereading for full appreciation of the New York Magazine piece, which you should read in full. This is history in the making, people.
While the Times piece was a hard-hitting look at Madoff's business mind and the world he operated in, the New York Magazine piece addresses more about what he's like as a person. It's warmer in a particular way that doesn't humor Madoff but does build a thin and very real layer of sympathy around his harshly and rightfully criticized outer shell.
The man who had billions of dollars, a boat, a plane, and four homes now goes to therapy and irons his own prison khakis. His once-close family is tattered beyond repair since Madoff's son, Mark, committed suicide on the second anniversary of his arrest. Now, even his wife, Ruth, who stood by his side for so long, will not speak to him. For perhaps the first time, we read about the human side of a man portrayed as the nation's most monstrous of humans.
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