The latest true crime series to drop on Netflix takes a step away from the serial killer trend which has seen shows like Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, The Texas Killing Fields and Killer Sally explode in popularity, and into the world of fraud and financial corruption instead.
Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street follows “the rise and fall of financier Bernie Madoff who orchestrated one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in Wall Street history”, Netflix says. While many know the name of Bernie Madoff, you may not be as familiar with his sons and the role that they played in his dramatic downfall.
This is everything you need to know about Bernie Madoff’s oldest son, Mark Madoff.
Who was Mark Madoff?
Madoff was the son of Bernie Madoff, who is known for committing a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme which saw the American financier landed with a 150 year long prison sentence.
Born and raised in Long Island, Madoff himself was also a financier. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan in 1986 and in 1987 he joined his father’s company, Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities LLC. His younger brother, Andrew, also worked at the company as well.
Madoff was married twice in his life - his first wife was his college girlfriend, Susan Elkin. They both attended the University of Michigan and got married shortly after their graduation - together, they had two children, son David and daughter Kate.
The family lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, however the pair divorced in 2000. Madoff then moved back to Manhattan, and in 2003 he married Stephanie Mack after they were set up on a blind date by a friend.
It was with Mack that Madoff welcomed two more children into his life, daughter Audrey and son Nicholas.
What was his role in the Ponzi scheme scandal?
In December 2008, Madoff and his brother confronted their father about his plan to dish out millions in bonuses to employees of the company well ahead of schedule. It was then that Bernie confessed to his sons that the business was actually a long-running Ponzi scheme that was in the process of crumbling under the global financial crisis.
While their father asked for 24 hours to get his affairs in order before turning himself in, the two Madoff brothers went straight to their lawyers and, following the advice given to them, went straight to the authorities - Bernie was arrested the next morning, and neither one of his sons ever spoke to him again.
Both Madoff children denied knowing anything about the fraud, and they were never criminally charged in connection to the fraud. However the aftermath of the scandal proved to be crushing for Madoff’s personal and professional life, with Madoff, his mother and brother all subject to media attention and lawsuits.
In 2011, Madoff’s wife, Mack, released an autobiography titled The End of Normal: A Wife’s Anguish, A Widow’s New Life, which detailed her experiences regarding the Ponzi scheme and the subsequent fallout for the Madoff family. In the book, she also included an excerpt from Madoff’s own memoir that he had been working on, but never finished.
The excerpt, written by Madoff, said: “My own father has stolen my life from me. It’s pain that is beyond description. The business that I spent 23 years building is gone, I am unemployed, my livelihood destroyed, and my family will forever live with the shame of what my father has done. There are so many victims of my father’s fraud, so many horrible stories. How do I explain to my children what I do not understand myself?”
When did Mark Madoff die?
On 11 December 2010, Madoff took his own life in his Manhattan apartment on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest. He was 46.
In a statement released at the time, Madoff’s lawyer Martin Flumenbaum said: “Mark Madoff took his own life today. This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy. [He was] an innocent victim of his father’s monstrous crime who succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo”.
According to the authorities, Madoff sent out a number of emails, including to his wife who was in Florida with their daughter at around 4am the morning of his death. An official said that the messages essentially said that “he loves her and he wants someone to check on the child”.
Deputy Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne said that officers responded to a 911 call just before 7:30am on the day Madoff was found dead. Browne said that Madoff’s two year old son was asleep in the next room. His body was discovered by Mack’s stepfather Martin London, who had gone to the apartment to check up on Madoff’s son.
Mack wrote about Madoff’s death in a piece for the NY Times in 2012, titled “As ‘Daddy’, Mark Madoff Lives On”. In the piece, she said that, two years on, she would “still wake up every morning with a jolt, as if I’m hearing the news for the first time that my husband has killed himself”.
Mack explains that “Audrey was only 4 when her father died, she will have very few memories of him; Nicholas was not even 2, and will most likely have none of his own. I know that. I hate it. I look for any opportunity to acknowledge Mark, “Our Daddy,” in happy ways”.
She ends the piece by writing: “Eventually my children will learn about the complex details of their father’s family, and that he took his own life. They’ll be angry, and they’ll grieve in different ways. But, for now, they’re young, and I find that in our grief, we end up celebrating our lives together. We have new memories complete with laughter and dancing. And somehow, we have found a peaceful place for Mark in them as well.”
What happened to his brother Andrew?
Back in 2003, Andrew was diagnosed with cancer. While he went into remission, it returned in 2011, and on 3 September 2014, whilst undergoing treatment, he passed away at age 43.
Lawyer Martin Flumenbaum said in a statement: “Andrew Madoff has lost his courageous battle against mantle cell lymphoma. He died peacefully at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on September 3, 2014, surrounded by his loving family.”
Speaking to Fred Hutch Cancer Center shortly before his death, Andrew said that the stress of his father’s crimes, the persistent legal battles and his brother’s suicide all likely played a part in his cancer returning.
He said: “I think that there’s no question in my mind that stress plays an enormous role in your body’s ability to fight disease. There’s absolutely a connection between the massive amounts of stress and the reason I relapsed.”
Help is on hand for anyone affected by this issue:
- You can call Samaritans for free on 116 123, email them at [email protected], or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch