Friday, June 19
Posted 9 a.m. EDT
Wealth gone bad
Pity the wealthy-gone-bad or, if not, at least anyone unlucky enough to be
associated with them. According to an article in The
New York Times, Ruth Madoff gets no respect. Worse, she can't even get a
The wife of notorious Ponzi-scheme kingpin Bernie Madoff has not been charged
with a crime, but she has been banished to a social netherworld in the aftermath
of the spectacular, $65 million financial fraud engineered by her husband, who
will be sentenced later this month.
While her Manhattan penthouse could hardly be considered a prison, Ruth reportedly
confines herself inside, away from even her family. Those who perceive her as
enjoying the spoils of stolen wealth harbor no sympathy.
According to the article, the spokeswoman for Ruth's hair salon said too many
clients at the salon had been swindled, and one of the owners told Ruth they
could no longer service her, even at her home. She is also avoiding the pricey
restaurants and gym she used to frequent.
It's no secret that obscene amounts of wealth engender awe from the rest of
us. Consider the example of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who recently
ordered up the world's largest private yacht, the 557-foot Eclipse, to add to
the other two yachts in his personal fleet. That scale of spending renders us
slack jawed and starry-eyed at the sheer indulgence of it all.
But if turnabout is fair play, then the flip side of wealth's visibility is
nothing short of ferocious. The victims of Bernie Madoff's crime, many of them
now destitute, have made sure that his sins have been shouted from the rooftops.
And in this recession, when we blame greed for much of the economic crisis,
he's become a poster boy for our downfall -- a kind of modern-day Midas left
to suffer the terrible irony of his quest for gold. Meanwhile, his nearest and
dearest await not only his fate, but their own.
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