Bernard Madoff, the infamous architect of an epic securities swindle that burned thousands of investors, outfoxed regulators and earned him a 150-year prison term, died behind bars early Wednesday.
He was 82.
For decades, Madoff enjoyed an image as a self-made financial guru whose Midas touch defied market fluctuations.
A former chairman of the Nasdaq stock market, he attracted a devoted legion of investment clients — from Florida retirees to celebrities such as film director Steven Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon and Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.
But his investment advisory business was exposed in 2008 as a Ponzi scheme that wiped out people’s fortunes and ruined charities. He became so hated he wore a bulletproof vest to court.
The fraud was believed to be the largest in Wall Street’s history.
Over the years, court-appointed trustees laboring to unwind the scheme have recovered more than $14 billion of an estimated $17.5 billion investors put into Madoff’s business.
At the time of Madoff’s arrest, fake account statements were telling clients they had holdings worth $60 billion.
Jerry Reisman, an attorney for about three dozen Madoff victims, said he’d spoken to several after Madoff’s death.
“I’m hearing that no one is sorry that Bernie Madoff died. If anything, they would have wished he could have been a little more healthy and stayed alive a little longer and suffered while in prison,” said Reisman.
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