Disgraced Wall Street financier Bernie Madoff died in prison of terminal kidney disease at the age of 82 on Wednesday, while serving a 150-year prison sentence for defrauding over 40,000 investors.
Over a period of decades, Madoff swindled clients out of $65 billion, in what amounted to be the largest investment scheme in the history of the nation. The Ponzi scheme came crashing down in 2008, along with the rest of the market, when his clients tried to pull their investments due to the financial crisis.
Madoff confessed the scam to his two sons, Mark and Andrew, both were senior managers at the firm, who promptly alerted authorities in December 2008. Four months later, he pleaded guilty to 11 federal crimes, including securities fraud and money laundering, and was given the maximum sentence of 150 years in federal prison.
The Wall Street banker defrauded individual investors, pension funds, and billionaires alike, some of his high-profile clients include celebrities, lawmakers, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Married actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick lost an undisclosed amount, as did late radio host Larry King and director Steven Spielberg’s charity the Wunderkinder Foundation. Actor John Malkovich was robbed of his $2.23 million investment, and Zsa Zsa Gábor was taken for $10 million.
“We thought he was God. We trusted everything in his hands,” said Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. His foundation was swindled out of $15.2 million.
Madoff was also ordered to pay restitution of $170 million, so far court-appointed trustees have recovered more than $14 billion and have paid out over $3 billion to investors.