What a loathsome creature. There, I said it. I found nothing redeeming about Ruth Madoff during her interview with Morley Safer. If I were her attorney, I would have said:  don’t bother, Ruthie. The little people ain’t gonna like you much.

It was a tour de force of "me me me" without an ounce of remorse or an element of empathy.

Yet I saw in her son’s face an enormous amount of emotional pain. I took him at his word that Bernie Madoff used and betrayed his children.

The relationship with Andrew Madoff's fiancé is a little less clear. Why does anyone stay engaged for 3 years? No one does. No one does unless they want to protect their own assets from being swept up by the creditors still zeroing in on the Madoff’s remaining dough. And losing money that way means no more Botox of the kind that kept the poor woman’s face frozen in Upper East Side perfection throughout the interview. That happy couple had zero connection with one another. No hand touches. Bad body language. Phooey.

But now back to Ruth. Did I believe her? I didn’t care enough about her to care about her truth. She didn’t even know what a ponzi scheme was? Really? My teenager knows what one is. How can you be in the high finance world in Manhattan and not know what that broad term means, even if you don’t know that your own husband is the poster child for such fraud.

She tried to kill herself, but can’t recall with what? Or how much she took? Really?

She went to the U.S. Post Office on Christmas eve to mail a bunch of jewelry to her son. Really? She stood in line with the unwashed masses and probably hundreds of thousands of dollars in family heirlooms to mail, what, parcel post? First class? Insured? She had no friends, or even a courier service who could bike messenger that pouch over to Andrew’s apartment? Forgive me my cynicism. 

I don’t know if it was the $300 ($500?) color job, the cashmere sweater and very expensive skin, or the nasal insouciance that turned me off more. Sure, Ruth was probably tranq-ed up the wazoo. And I probably would be too.

But what I never heard, once, from any of them, was how sorry they were for the people who were wiped out. Now, either Morley Safer didn’t ask that question, in which case shame on him. Or I simply didn't hear it. But had I been Mrs. Madoff ("what's the point in divorcing?") I’d have made sure that my feelings on the matter were included in the interview. Unless I was so darned self-centered that I couldn’t care less and I didn’t have any feelings.

And that’s essentially what I saw:  you can take the girl out of the entitled, but you can’t take the entitled out of the girl. This interview was to sell one of two books designed to profit family members. I don’t care how you slice it. My thoughts remain with the folks who lost their funds to these frauds. 



11/07/2011 10:02

Laurie, I agree 100%. This woman offended me more than I can say. Absolutely disgraceful.

11/07/2011 10:05

I have no empathy for this woman or any of that family. They don't care about the true victims, they only care about themselves.

11/07/2011 10:37

And I agree they're all entitled snobs, but I don't blame the sons or fiance for anything. Bernie's son Mark killed himself on the second anniversary of Madoff's arrest. It must be hell to be his kids. The fiance got all tangled up in it, so I don't blame her for not marrying Andrew just yet.

Laura Novak
11/07/2011 12:24

I hear you Ron and I agree that clearly their boys have suffered immeasurably. My gut tells me that there is something more mercenary involved with the fiance, but I could be wrong. She's not the main point of the story. And the fact that the mother chose her husband over her children speaks/spoke volumes as well. Thanks for weighing in. I appreciate your comments.

11/07/2011 12:53

Really? I feel very sorry for her.


11/07/2011 12:55

The "Eyes for Lies" blog has an analysis with comments on this interview with Ruth and Andrew. Ruth is clearly lying.

I'm sure Bernie knew the gravy train would come to a halt someday, and I bet he put aside a small fortune for himself. I doubt the investigators will find it.

I read an article (Vanity Fair?) in which Ruth made a big deal of being impoverished - asking friends to save their quarters so Bernie could use a pay phone, or some such nonsense.

IMHO she is socially embarrassed, and sorry they got caught, but not about to turn over one penny of the stolen money unless she has to.

11/07/2011 15:18

i feel badly for the children, but not that badly. They had excellent educations, and worked in finance. They should have known something was off. Ditto for some of the investors. Even I know fund income varies over time. What would you think if you were reviewing the returns on 20 funds, and one set of returns stuck out like a sore thumb because its return never varied? I know it is harsh, but the professionals should have known.

11/07/2011 18:05

I am fascinated by your reference to "nasal insouciance.” I suspect I know this speech pattern, but am curious what it sounds like. Is it preppie East Coast? I have always heard the long vowels, but lately I am hearing a nasal chaser; ie, Slate book club podcast hosts.

11/07/2011 19:50

Please please forgive my ignorance but I haven't a clue as to who all or any of these people are - or the events you're commenting on - if you have a version for dummies (or even a handful of cliff notes) I would appreciate the help. I love your blog, am a frequent visitor and am usually able to keep up - just, sadly, not today :(

11/07/2011 20:05

ozmud, look up Bernie Madoff in Wikipedia. He perpetrated a major Ponzi scheme. He's in jail now. Ruth is his wife.

11/07/2011 20:45

That interview really got my dander up. I totally agree with you, Laura. Ruth shared her life, slept in the same bed, and accepted an extremely lavish materialist life, and never once questioned where the money came from? Sure business was good, but all businessess have to turn their profits back into the business to make it grow.

Yes, she was drugged out of her mind during the interview. Ruth's actions and excuses for her husband made me ill. She tried to commit suicide (on Christmas Eve) and doesn't recall the medicines invloved, and both she AND Bernie miraculously survied? But she had the presence of mind to collect her expensive jewelry and "mail them" beforehand.

The son's "Fiancee'" (I think that's the parlance these days for kept women) and the son haven't married yet, because all the proceeds from the book go to the Fiancee', the ponzie apple doesn't fall too far from the ponzie tree. That's why they aren't married. Ruthless to the bone, the whole lot of them.

11/07/2011 21:26

I felt nauseous listening to Madoff's wife going on and on about how difficult it was for them. What about the many people they bilked out of their life savings? I don't believe for a moment she's broke. She's living as if she is but I'm certain she has a stash somewhere that Bernie put aside for them and it had to be sizeable enough to take care of them for years on the run. After listening to her son, I believe he really didn't know about any of this. They were two separate firms despite sharing office space. I also think there were plenty of other people who were wise to what was going on and most of them didn't say anything because the return was so good on their investment. They probably got their money out little by little, if they were smart enough to realize what it was, they were smart enough to know it could end, too. Those who ruined so many lives will have to live with themselves for their remaining years and although they may appear to be living well, how many of them will be sleeping well? Not many, I hope.

11/07/2011 21:36

Up -- Thx for reminding us to look in Wikipedia. It says there that Ruth got $2.5M after all her toys were taken away. Plus whatever she might have withdrawn while she could. I know a millon ain't what it used to be, but it certainly would give her access to enough quarters for the phone or the laundromat. But isn't it certain that there are Swiss bank accounts, too? Esp as wiki says Bernie knew early on that he would implode at some point.

Ruth never bothered me as much as the story of Marcopolos, the man who identified the fraud in 1999 and tried multiple times to get the agencies to care. Sounds like everyone ignoring the SP baby hoax to me.

And please: how is Cain's sticking his hand up a woman's skirt worthy of the front page of the NYT but not the babyhoax? Which involved . . . oh, you know. Aren't we just too, too tired of this Sisyphean effort.

"Fred" is our last chance (sounds like he's self-publishing with no promo plan). Unless a wild card emerges, if there is to be one, ever.

11/07/2011 22:28

*clapping* for Laura! I didn't watch this interview, but the heartbreak caused by Bernie Madoff, et. al., is just so depressing.

I'll never forget reading this article of a local Ben Lomond gentleman who lost everything - and went back to work at age 90. Poor Ruthie couldn't do it since she might break a nail, God forbid.


Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense
11/07/2011 23:45

The interview with Ruth(less) Made-off(with Billions) is further proof of the little trick I learned to avoid letting any more narcissistic psychos into my life:

Listen to (or read) their words carefully and notice how many times they use "I," "me," "my" or "mine" or otherwise refer to themselves.

After watching Ruthless Madoff's interview, I think SHE shouldbe in prison just like her slug of a husband.

Also, below is a link to the Wall Street Journal's list of all of Bernie Madoff's clients who got ripped off. It can really put a human face on the whole Madoff tragedy -- I found two people I knew long ago!

I can't even begin to imagine how they've suffered, and if I knew them better I'd be tempted to call them to find out what happened.


11/07/2011 23:45

I forgot Ruth Madoff was scheduled to be interviewed on 60 Minutes. If as described, then she is really no different than a lot of the people in that social stratosphere.

Let me preface this by saying I don't feel sorry for Ruth or Bernie Madoff. A lot of people's lives were shattered because of his ponzi scheme.

Although I do not know anything about Ruth's family background, but if she came from money, the mind-set during that era is women were not allowed in the male-dominated world of finance. Men handled the money and conducted business and/or hired stock brokers, bankers, accountants, etc. to do it for them, whereas women were assigned to taking care of the home and social functions. Thus it is safe to assume Ruth does not know a whole lot, if anything, about the world of finance. After all there was no reason for Ruth to bother her pretty lil head over such matters.

Based on what little I know, aside from the fact he is from that same time frame and mind-set, Bernie strikes me as the type of person who demands complete and utter control over most everything (especially other people's money) and not have to answer to anyone. By keeping Ruth out of the loop, he had free reign in handling all the business transactions unfettered & unencumbered. Whether she knew about her husband's ponzi scheme is up for debate, but my guess is she probably did not, at least not until Bernie got caught & had to explain it to her.

I know women who, to this day, have no idea how to balance a cheque book or pay bills or handle finances or invest money because their husbands are in-charge of all things related to money. God forbid something happens where one of them will have to take care of it herself. Even with brokers, accountants and bankers, etc. handling the finances, you still need to have a basic understanding otherwise you won't know what questions to ask or what to look for or know if something is suspect. And if that being the case, then one day all your money could be gone and you'll be left standing there without a clue as what to do. Which is why I tend to believe Ruthie is in this situation notwithstanding her culpability. In other words she probably knows more than she is letting on, but playing the victim suits her needs or so she thinks.

By the same token I cannot help but wonder if she isn't angry at Bernie? Or if she's too self-absorbed in her pity-pot she doesn't fully comprehend the situation! Perhaps both, but Iam not going to worry my pretty 'lil head over it.

In closing, with the proceeds from the book and whatever other money or family heirlooms might be stashed Ruth & Bernie Madoff will be fine, unfortunately the same cannot be said about all the people who got caught in their web of deceit and lies, better known as Madoff's ponzi scheme.

11/08/2011 04:41


My hand to God I mean no disrespect and I sincerely apologize up front to whomever this comment may offend - that said - I shouldn't have had to pour through the comments waiting for someone to post that this was in reply to a 60 Minutes television segment, nor Google or use Wikipedia to find out who all the named people were and how they each related to it.

I know grief has thrown Laura off her game but I come here to read 'her' style of writing, not the dryness of a databank. I'm never disappointed by her wit and prose. Until today.

Reading this particular post was much like listening to someone speaking on the phone - I only got one side of the conversation and was left to guess what the other side was all about.

I placed my original inquiry/comment gingerly, not to ruffle feathers but hoping to get a brief explanation of the piece so I, too, could enjoy the post. Instead I got a very patronising "thank you Up for reminding us all to use wikipedia" as if it was 'on me' to work out what aqn author is trying to say rather than the writer's job to be clear in the first place.

mistah charley, ph.d.
11/08/2011 06:21

My view is different. If I read a reference that is obscure to me, either I look it up or I go on to the next piece.

"Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects." -- Will Rogers - the Wikipedia article on him is very interesting, in my opinion.

Ozmud, if you find yourself disappointed again and again when you come here to read, eventually you will stop coming. Experiments have shown, however, that if you occasionally are not disappointed (what behaviorists term "intermittent reinforcement"), even if this is only rarely, it will take longer for you to stop coming here. The jargon term for this is "extinction".

Personally, I am very glad to have you come here and read as much as you like. JUST SPARE US YOUR WHINING.

11/08/2011 07:59

OzMud -- OMG, my apologies. I meant the "thank you" only on behalf of myself, because I knew a little about Madoff but learned so much more when I read that wiki just then. Like that Ruth was given $2.5M -- that was pretty surprising to me.

I am so sorry that my comment wasn't stated better -- I have so much respect for all your comments, read them eagerly always. I actually thought "how nice of Oz to ask" because I feel like we help each other out a lot on these blogs -- at least I feel really helped by others a LOT. My version of Mistah Charlie's quote is "everybody doesn't know something," which is so esp true in the computer world that few people are reluctant to say "I don't get it." I hope you will accept my apology. I truly did not realize anyone would read my comment that way, least of all a valued commenter like you.

And I'm glad too that you spoke up about being offended -- so we can fix that.

11/08/2011 08:28

If we accept the "didn't know" premise re the sons, we must also accept that each person claiming it was feeling majorly entitled.

How could the sons have justified withdrawing so much? That kind of thinking would have put a very high valuation on their "work" for Bernie, or whatever they thought entitled them to so much money. (If Wiki is to be believed where it says: "Since 1995, Peter Madoff had invested only $32,146, but withdrew over $16 million. Mark and Andrew Madoff withdrew more than $35 million from a small original investment.")

Ditto Ruth. Yes, financial ignorance of "the little woman" can happen even to a can-do person like Debbie Reynolds (whose 2nd husband stole her wealth), but Debbie went out and re-earned it. Of course, she had a marketable skill, unlike Ruth.

11/08/2011 08:45

To OzMud: The Madoff story is so big over here that it can be hard to realize that there are places it has not reached. Furthermore, I sense Laura is extremely busy.

To Everyone: I sometimes think that we Trig Truthers are like Harry Markopoulos (sp?), the chap who tried repeatedly to warn the SEC that Madoff had to be making off with billions. And as our first amendment is at stake, yes, we're doing something just as important.

mistah charley, ph.d.
11/08/2011 08:46

Ottoline, I understand you to be apologizing for accidentally offending OzMud.

On the other hand, I intentionally "poked" Ozmud (metaphorically speaking), in what I saw as justifiable and commensurate retaliation for the remarks about Laura being "off her game" and failing to do "the writer's job to be clear in the first place."

In my view OzMud owes apologies to both Laura and yourself. And also an apology to me, while she's at it, for making it necessary for me to be rude.

On some blogs I read and comment on, it would be understood that your (Ottoline's) apology to OzMud would be dripping with sarcasm. Here, and from you, I believe it to be sincere.

I'm completely sincere too. If OzMud apologizes, all will be forgiven. If not, then I may never respond to a comment from that quarter again.

11/08/2011 09:18

Hey Mistah Charley -- We all have a bad day. I wish I had not said "us" when I meant "me." ("Thx for reminding ME. . . ") Lots of bad things happen when I make that mistake. It's sort of a big deal to me, and I stand corrected. I too think Laura was abundantly clear on a topic that we have been overwhelmingly immersed in (Madoff), but I think Oz can be excused because a world-wide audience is different in unexpected ways from a more local one. And that's a good thing.

I say we give Oz some slack, esp in view of SO MANY great contributions over the long haul. I think it's better to feel able to say "your comment hurt" and then work it out -- better than licking real or perceived wounds in private, as I have done. What a waste of energy.

11/08/2011 11:21

To get the discussion back on track...

Those who have been rich for a long time feel entitled, and be damned to anyone else. They are what OWS is about. They spend with wild abandon, thinking that nothing could change their status. When that status is changed, even marginally, they WHINE.

I grew up poor and, despite a college education, late in life that status has not changed. I find those who have come into money late in life have a difficult time giving up their coupon clipping ways. They are the ones I admire.

So, I don't feel the least bit of sympathy or empathy for the rich who have come tumbling down to about 5 rungs in the ladder above the rest of us. Let them have their pity party, but keep it off the entertain-news. They are, to put it nicely, disgusting.

Linda Arizona
11/08/2011 12:18

To Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense:

I enjoyed reading your "little trick I learned to avoid letting any more narcissistic psychos into my life:

Listen to (or read) their words carefully and notice how many times they use "I," "me," "my" or "mine" or otherwise refer to themselves."

<b>Ruth Madoff seems to be a sociopath</b>.

Here's my little trick on identifying sociopaths: Listen carefully, note your reaction to them, then ask yourself whether someone you truly admire would speak the same words as the suspected sociopath/narcissist/psychopath.

As I listened to Ruth, I thought, Well, Michelle Obama would never speak so glibly if one of her children had died. She would be inconsolable. That would be a normal response to such a tragedy.

Sociopaths reveal themselves in the words they choose, while seeming to be calm and reasonable.

Projecting onto these creatures emotional attributes that we ourselves have, only camouflages their true identities.

Laura Novak
11/08/2011 12:50

You know what, OzMud? It would never occur to me in a million years to go to your blog, or anyone else's, and criticize your or their writing style, or the work they had put up that day. Clearly, feeling left out made you lash out. But I didn't need that. I really didn't. If you don't like what you see here, quietly go somewhere else.

11/08/2011 14:02

I think my jaw was on the floor for most of the interview. It was stunning how little emotion Ruthie showed about her sons suicide and that she could so casually talk about her own, very hard to believe, suicide attempt. Laura, you hit the nail on the head about self-centeredness, feeling of entitlement, and apparent lack of remorse for the true victims. Book receipts should be going to the victims.

I think Ruthie slipped in the interview with Matt Lauer when she said it was attorneys who didn’t want her speaking to her sons and that she had an ‘extensive email relationship’ with Mark. They have clearly been saying that the sons cut ties with their mother because of their anger at her continued contact with their father. What other lies are they promoting in the book and this publicity tour?

Part 2, beginning at 8:01

11/08/2011 14:32

I can't generate much energy for this disgusting tragedy. I don't personally know anyone who lost money because of Madoff. My main thought when I first saw her photo was "nice hair and glasses for such an unattractive woman."

The swindle on our civil liberties and economy that was attempted by the McCain/Palin election effort, and that we will see trying to prevail again in the 2012 effort -- that seems so much more damaging to me. So much more important. So much harder to extricate ourselves from.

It is easy for me to dismiss the sorry story that these Madoff family members are peddling. But it is not easy to dismiss my worry about the coming election, which I see the far right attempting to suss out by advancing these ridiculous candidates (like SP, now Cain), tightening voter eligibility, figuring out how to change the voting machines' results in their favor. We the people are really gullible re some late-breaking mega PR campaign that seems likely to happen: probably some damaging fake charge against Obama.

I guess I am going O/T with this, but this Ruth and her self-justifying spawn just seem unworthy of our attention.

Laura Novak
11/08/2011 15:18

Thank you Curiouser for providing this link. I hadn't seen the interview and couldn't stomach finishing it. How odd for Matt Lauer to suggest she jump off the roof of her building. Is this what journalism has come to? She still appears drugged, though incredibly unsympathetic. And Deb, trust me, I really went into this with an open mind and tried to believe her. But it's all together unbelievable. I too wish we'd never heard of these people. She will have security for life and so many others lost theirs through her husband's greed.

11/08/2011 16:08

I very much enjoyed this piece, Laura. Apparently you are moving into the little-appreciated eighth grief phase: righteous snark. Excellent.

11/08/2011 16:22

Matt Lauer's reminder of the distance between the penthouse and pavement was beyond bizarre. Splat! I doubt Ruth's story and have no sympathy for her but seriously, Matt...

I also noticed a gap between Lauer's level of questioning and scrutiny in this interview and his interviews with politicians where he primarily seems to provide them with a platform (think the Palin's kitchen). Journalism seems to be on its way out and entertainment and stenography are taking over.

Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense
11/08/2011 17:29

@ Linda in Arizona

Thanks for your adding your "trick" for avoiding psychos by considering how those we admire would react.

In the future, I'll try asking myself, "Now, what would Tallulah Bankhead say ?"

In this case, I think that'd be something like "I'm so god%#$@ ashamed that anyone I'd marry could be such a %@$&*ing *@#!head to do such a thing to innocent people -- why, I'm so god#%$@ mortified and ashamed that I could just %@$# in my %@$#ing pants -- give me a light, will you dahling ? -- and I hope that vile sonofa%#$@& rots in jail for all the #%@$ing harm he's caused others -- another julep, dahling ? You certainly downed that first one like it was a hot load of $@#, now didn't you ? -- which is why I'm wracking my god%#$@ brain like a mother$#%$&@ for any details that might help those poor #^@$&$#s whose lives have turned to &^%$ because of that @%#$sucker I made the mistake of marrying -- ROSE ??? Where's the #%@$ing vichyssoise ??? We're #%$@ing STARVING in here, dahling !!! -- and also why I'm donating every %$#&ing dollar I earn to making restitution to those poor #%$^@$#s harmed by that immoral piece of %@$# ...!"

11/09/2011 11:49

Thank you for verbalizing EXACTLY what I was thinking!!!! If they had any decency, the money from the book would go to the victims in this disgusting theft!

Original Lee
11/09/2011 17:38

I have read a lot about these people, both when the scandal first broke and then as the trials moved through the court system. I finally got to the point where I would read the absolute bare minimum necessary to know what our justice system was doing. So I had no idea that there were any books, or that there was an interview, or anything of that nature.

Thank you, Laura, for taking the brain cell hit for the rest of us.

That said, I know a number of people who have had long engagements (i.e., 5-10 years). Frequently there was an existing obligation that one of the partners felt was unfair to bring into the marriage or to start married life dealing with. Everybody's different that way, so I'm not too hung up on the fiancee.

A lot of my issues with Ruth center around the fact that she seems to think that because Bernie turned himself in, he shouldn't have been treated like a criminal and that she is being unfairly punished somehow. In a way, it's very sad, because the spouses of criminals almost always get a raw deal, it seems to me, so how self-absorbed she must have been not to have figured this out!

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