Andrew H. Madoff, who reported to authorities that his father and longtime Wall Street colleague, Bernard L. Madoff, had masterminded perhaps the largest Ponzi scheme in history, a multibillion-dollar crime that Andrew described as a “father-son betrayal of biblical proportions,” died Sept. 3 at a hospital in New York City. He was 48.
His lawyer, Martin Flumenbaum, told The Associated Press that the cause was mantle cell lymphoma. Madoff was diagnosed in 2003 with lymphoma and suffered a relapse a decade later.
Madoff was the only surviving child of Bernie Madoff, a once-revered financier who is now serving a 150-year sentence in federal prison for felonies including securities fraud and money laundering, and the former Ruth Alpern.
Their elder son, Mark Madoff, hanged himself on Dec. 11, 2010, exactly two years after Bernard Madoff’s arrest. Mark and Andrew had turned their father in to officials after a tearful confession in which he revealed that his business was “all just one big lie.”
Like Mark, Andrew Madoff spent nearly his entire career at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, a family-run powerhouse headquartered in Manhattan’s Lipstick building. Both sons rose to top executive ranks but steadfastly denied involvement in the scheme that their father conducted — with an unresolved degree of assistance — alongside the legitimate trading business.
Bernard Madoff’s clients included filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, retirees and other private investors, and banks, universities and charities.
Bernard Madoff took their money and, for years, reported returns that were gainful, reliable and fake. The scheme collapsed amid the financial crisis of 2008, when his clients began requesting the withdrawal of funds that he could not provide. By the end, he had taken an estimated $20 billion in principal investments.
Andrew Madoff publicly repudiated his father after the revelations. Despite his efforts to distance himself from Bernard’s actions, he became entangled in their consequences.
Andrew Madoff was not criminally charged but was the target of civil lawsuits by Irving H. Picard, the court-appointed trustee overseeing the liquidation of the Madoff firm and the compensation of victims. In July 2014, amending earlier claims, Picard filed documents seeking the recovery of $153 million that Andrew and Mark Madoff had allegedly received through improper loans and other means.
The suit charged that the brothers had known of their father’s fraud and that they had deleted or altered records during an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A lawyer for Andrew and his late brother’s estate described the allegations as “unfounded.”
“I’m hoping that when people have heard my story,” Andrew Madoff told the New York Times in 2011, “they will judge me a little bit less harshly.”
Andrew had gone to work for his father in the late 1980s, shortly after graduating from college. He was “cerebral” and “tech-savvy,”according to Vanity Fair, while Mark Madoff was more “gregarious.” Together the brothers helped oversee the firm’s trading enterprise.
Bernie Madoff, it has been widely reported, ran his secretive and fraudulent hedge fund in a secluded office on another floor. He maintained that the fraud began in 1992, but other accounts placed its start date earlier.
As the U.S. economy crumbled in 2008, Bernard Madoff appeared to be under increasing stress. On Dec. 10, he asked his sons to accompany him to his Manhattan apartment, where he revealed that the business was a fraud and that he had no money.
“He just started sobbing,” Andrew Madoff told journalist Morley Safer of “60 Minutes” in 2011. “I was shocked. … I felt like my head exploded.”
Andrew said that his brother “stormed out” and that he then followed. They called upon a lawyer and, within hours, reported their father to authorities. The next morning, Bernard Madoff was arrested at his Manhattan home. Andrew refused to co-sign for the bail bond.
As the extent of their father’s fraud was revealed — $65 billion in reported paper wealth — public outrage mounted, including at his associates. As Bernard Madoff’s sons, Mark and Andrew remained the subjects of particular suspicion.
“Keep in mind, these were completely separate businesses,” Andrew Madoff told Safer, referring to the division between the real and fraudulent operations at the investment firm. “We were executing hundreds of thousands of transactions a day. And that kept all of us incredibly busy. And it just didn’t occur to me that he could be involved in any kind of criminal activity.”
Andrew Madoff further contended that his father used the work of the company’s actual traders to maintain the aura of expertise that helped attract and maintain clients for the scheme. “It was one of the hardest things to come to grips with,” he told Safer, “that feeling that I had been used almost as a … human shield by him.”
“It’s unforgivable,” he continued. “No father should do that to their sons.”
In 2013, a judge in England dismissed a case against Mark and Andrew Madoff, ruling that they neither “knew of, or suspected, the fraud” and that “their honesty and integrity has been vindicated.”
Diana B. Henriques, a reporter who covered the Madoff case for the New York Times, noted in her 2011 book about the story, “The Wizard of Lies,” that if the sons were guilty, they might have fled — and that they had not.
“From the very beginning of this whole episode,” Andrew Madoff told Safer, “I’ve been eager, I would say almost desperate, to speak out publicly and tell people that I’m absolutely not involved.”
Andrew Howard Madoff was born April 8, 1966, and grew up in the Long Island community of Roslyn. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school in 1988. By the mid-1990s, he was running the Nasdaq desk at his father’s securities firm.
“They were a very hardworking family,” one trader told Erin Arvedlund, a financial journalist and the author of the 2009 book “Too Good to Be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff.” “Andrew didn’t take a vacation for about four years after he started.”
At times, he sought independence from his father. He invested in businesses including Urban Angler, a fly shop in Manhattan; Abel Automatics, a California-based producer of fishing tools; and Madoff Energy, an energy-exploration venture.
After Bernard’s confession, the Madoff family fell apart. Andrew was separated from his first wife, the former Deborah West, before she filed for divorce on the day of her father-in-law’s arrest.
Andrew said that for two years he rarely spoke to his mother, whom he blamed for appearing to stand by Bernard. He said that they restored contact after Mark’s suicide.
Madoff met Catherine Hooper, a one-time cover girl for Fish & Fly magazine, through the Urban Angler shop, where she also was an investor. With Hooper, he operated Black Umbrella, a provider of emergency preparedness services that she had founded.
A complete list of survivors could not immediately be confirmed.
Unlike other members of the family, Andrew Madoff did not move to change his name.
“That’s who I am,” he said. “My name is Madoff, and I’ll live with that for the rest of my life.”