Madoff – For Those Who Can’t Get Enough

from Boston Magazine:

Dispatch: Reversal of Fortune

I found myself seated at one of the Boston tables. For months I had been going out almost every night, researching a book on Palm Beach society, and these social occasions had grown increasingly tedious. But the atmosphere this evening was electric. In half a century, the Jewish population in Palm Beach had gone from a ghettoized minority to the island’s indisputably dominant cultural and intellectual force. And within that community, it was the Bostonians who ruled as the most charitable, the most intellectual, and the most cultured. They didn’t merely make cocktail talk; they had conversations, over topics ranging from the tiniest nuances of Palm Beach society to the great issues of the world.

from Vanity Fair:

Madoff in Manhattan

Great con men always understand the vulnerabilities of their victims. Madoff’s clients trusted the fact that he invested money not only for such important Jewish institutions as Hadassah but also for his closest friends. “If you had asked me, ‘Do you want to invest with the guy who makes the money for Yeshiva University and Steven Spielberg’s foundation,’ would I have signed up in a heartbeat?” a friend of mine said. “You bet I would.” Madoff’s history as a scrappy, rags-to-riches success struck so deeply into the psyche of many of his Jewish victims that they put aside their common sense for him. No computer access to an account? No chance to ask a question about due diligence? Oh, fine. Someone close to one hedge-fund manager who lost a billion dollars believed that Madoff had reminded his friend of his father. “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations,” many of his investors had been told as children. The essence of Madoff’s genius was his ability to invoke the romance of grandparents and great-grandparents coming to America and making good. Madoff tapped into his clients’ innocence and their grandiosity. A not inconsiderable part of his victim pool came from a group who thought of money with a complex tangle of shame and attraction, as if they believed that understanding money would drag them back into the stereotyping of their immigrant roots.