The huuuuuge Fortune story on Bernie Madoff asserts something that should seem obvious: maybe some investors knew there was something fishy going on! Also, Bernie is nuts. He dropped trou in the office!
Here are the fun "quirky Bernie" anecdotes that we've all come to love in every Madoff story:
- "Virtually every piece of furniture, equipment, or decoration was black or gray. That extended even to the pushpins in employees' cubicles. 'Bernie had the manufacturer just send boxes of black ones,' says Bob McMahon, a former employee."
- "Even while he was responsible for billions of dollars, it was not uncommon to see him dusting his office or the two-foot sculpture of a screw behind his desk. One staffer recalls getting off the elevator to find Madoff, clad in one of his innumerable tailored suits, on his hands and knees in the lobby, straightening the rugs so that they were aligned perfectly."
- "When Madoff was in the office, all window blinds had to be aligned at the same height, all computer screens had to be arrayed at the same angle and position, and on and on. So insistent was he on perfect alignment that, more than once, he dropped his trousers in the office — startling female employees — to ensure that the line of his shirt buttons was precisely vertical."
- "He decreed that e-mails would no longer be stored electronically. First he decided that each of the firm's e-mails would be printed and then stored in boxes, but he was persuaded by others that such a plan was impractical. In the end, Madoff ordered that old e-mails be transferred to microfiche, a cumbersome process that costs much more than archiving the records digitally."
And there is so much "oh god how could you fall for this you moron" material! In 2006, Bernie was all "oh I trade equities in Europe, yeah," to the SEC, and they were like "ok cool that works for us." Then he told them that his girlfriend, who he met at camp, lives in Canada.
As the market collapsed last year, the investment committee for The American Jewish Congress asked Madoff how the hell he was still making money. This was his actual answer: "I could explain it to you, Richard, but it's really complicated." Hah!
When people were saying "oh how could anyone fall for the hipster grifter, what a bunch of morons," well yes, sure, those boys were all idiot hipsters who kept what excuses for brains they could possibly claim in their pants, but the people who sent all their money, knowingly, to Bernie's magical "I want to give you impossibly consistent 20% returns with my mouth" factory are clearly just as stupid. Or, you know, criminal! Bernie's creepy Italian henchman sidekick dude is naming names!
DiPascali, according to this source, admits manipulating the returns of several clients, jiggering them up or down — phantom gains added or reduced — to suit their needs. Says the source: "This is a group of inside investors — all individuals with very, very high net worths who, hypothetically speaking, received a 20% markup or 25% markup or a 15% loss if they needed it." The investors would tell DiPascali, for example, that their other investments had soared and they needed to find some losses to cut their tax bills. DiPascali would adjust their Madoff results accordingly.