Bernie Madoff has been out of sight since a judge confined him to his East 64th Street apartment a couple of weeks ago, but there's been plenty of news to keep Madoff in the spotlight. Today a House panel is addressing why the SEC failed to detect the fraud earlier (particularly since the agency acknowledges it looked into the firm 8 times over the past 16 years), a handful of Madoff victims have come forward in the last week (including hedge fund guru Michael Steinhardt), and the scandal-plagued law firm Milberg LLP now says it's signed up 100 victims as part of a class action lawsuit. The most amusing new Madoff details, though, come from an interview with Julia Fenwick, who worked as Madoff's office manager in London for eight years and was a close friend of Bernie's niece, Shana Madoff. Fenwick says Madoff was "the most anally retentive person I have ever met"—and she's not kidding.
Madoff was obsessed with cleanliness—"no paper was allowed on the desks"—and the staff in London would spend days before Bernie arrived "leveling the blinds, making sure the computer screens were an identical height, lining every picture up straight." Scratches or blemishes would have to be repaired prior to his arrival, and Bernie insisted that his London branch featured the exact same gray-and-black color scheme as his office in New York. (This also explains why his plane was painted the same color.) When Madoff visited London, he always stayed at the Lanesborough Hotel, where he kept a collection of his clothes in storage so he wouldn't have to carry a suitcase with him. ("There is still a trunk full of his clothes there," Fenwick says.) Other quirks: He always ate the same sandwich for lunch (cream cheese, smoked salmon and cucumber on brown bread) and steered clear of alcohol (he preferred Diet Coke), although he had a weakness for very non-kosher pork sausages.
Fenwick says Madoff was often accompanied by his interior designer, Susan Blumenfeld, who also helped pick out Ruth Madoff's wardrobe. Sadly, this means that the Madoff affair has impacted every member of the Blumenfeld family. Susan's real estate developer husband, Edward, revealed a couple of weeks ago that he'd invested heavily in Madoff, partnered with him on several real estate projects, and purchased a half-share in Madoff's $24 million plane. Now, not only have the Blumenfelds lost millions, Susan has lost one of her major decorating clients although, wisely, she's already removed the mentions of Madoff from her website.