Bernie Madoff, the convicted Ponzi schemer whose long-term, multi-billion-dollar financial manipulations ruined clients and rattled financial markets, has died.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed the death of Madoff, 82, at Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C. The bureau told Deadline in a statement that it resulted from natural causes and not Covid-19.
About a year ago, Madoff’s attorney had requested his release, citing chronic kidney failure and saying he had just 18 months to live as of that time.
Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 and was sentenced in 2011 to the maximum jail term of 150 years. Eventually, authorities managed to return $12 billion to investors, but that was just a fraction of the nearly $65 billion entrusted to Madoff. In the classic Ponzi model, he had used incoming investment funds to pay returns to other investors instead of proceeds from what he claimed were successful investments. Eventually, the setup collapsed when the losses mounted and too many clients were left in the cold.
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The Madoff affair spawned TV movies and bestselling books. His fraud ensnared Hollywood figures like Steven Spielberg as well as baseball’s New York Mets franchise. Spielberg’s charity Wunderkinder had invested in bogus Madoff funds.
Before his fraud began, Madoff had a lengthy run as a legitimate player in finance, having set up his own securities firm. He at one point served as chairman of the Nasdaq. Its spectacular returns attracted regular scrutiny from regulators.
In a telephone interview with the Washington Post last year, Madoff said he “made a terrible mistake” and asked for compassion. “I’m terminally ill,” he said. “There’s no cure for my type of disease. So, you know, I’ve served. I’ve served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I’ve suffered through it.”