Clearly, Lady Ruth McMadoff was fully aware that her husband's business was a sham. But let's travel for a few moments to an imaginary world in which Mrs. Bernie had no idea her baubles and beach houses and butter-blonde lockes were being financed through ill-gotten gains. According to Randy "The Ethicist" Cohen, Ruth had a moral obligation to stop and ask the husb where the scratch was coming from, the implication being that it was coming from a scam.
Here's a guideline: around the time you acquire your third house (the one in Palm Beach), you must enquire, How are we paying for this? When selecting your second yacht (Little Bull, recently seized by the courts), you must pose the question: Where is the money coming from? Having benefited from a husband's activities -- for decades, not days -- a spouse may not remain willfully ignorant. Adults must have some grasp of their impact upon other people, including financially. The greater your wealth, the greater your impact on others, the greater your responsibility not to be conveniently oblivious.
Really? With all due respect to Cohen, we beg to differ. Since when does marrying someone mean that you should have to take an active interest-- prying or otherwise-- in their business? Jim Simons made $2.5 billion last year. Is Mrs. Simons demanding a look at Renaissance's books? Anne Dias Griffin's Aragon Global Management turned in a considerably better '08 than the husband's fund. Is Ken packing the Mrs.'s lunch with love notes that read "Have a great day! PS I know you're running a Ponzi scheme, you must be. I'm not gonna rat you out, just admit it and teach me your ways." Ray Dalio took home $780 million. Do you see Barbara making periodic visits to the trading floor just to make sure "there's no funny business going on here"? And even if she wanted to, who's to say she'd be granted permission to "come on down"? This isn't the Price Is Right, RandCo.
Update: After considering the offense that might be taken (you have no idea how many "wives of" read this site), it must be said-- RandCo, morals or not, these women aren't paid to think (let alone ask, "is this a scam?").