For the latest issue of the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin explores the relationship between Bernie Madoff and Fred Wilpon, chairman and chief executive of the Mets and a victim of Madoff's Ponzi scheme, which resulted in Wilpon (and the baseball team) getting, how to put this? Fucked. As his new project while in the joint is getting people to remember his legacy and talk about all the great stuff he did prior to one blip on an otherwise tremendous career, Berns picked up where he left off with New York reporter Steve Fishman, to whom he griped in February:
“Does anybody want to hear that I had a successful business and did all these wonderful things for the industry? And got all these awards? And so did my family? I did all of this during the legitimate years. No. You don’t read any of that.”
Here's what he had to say this time around:
*On his net worth during the legitimate years: "I was worth a billion dollars before any of this nonsense started."
*On needing a CFA to understand the complexities of his work, the legitimacy of which is still an open-ended question in his mind: Still, he speaks about his financial acumen with unmistakable pride. “The strategy that I was using for them, whether it was real or not,** was not something that anyone would understand if you were not an expert,” he said. As he put it in an e-mail, “Fred was not [at] all stock market savvy and Saul was not really either. They were strictly Real Estate people. Although I explained the Strategy to them they were not sophisticated enough to evaluate it properly, nor were most of my other individual clients. They were not in a position to perform the necessary due diligence and did not have access to necessary financial info or records.”
*On people who really need to put themselves in his shoes, and get over it: “[Wilpon] must feel that I betrayed him, as do most of my friends who were involved. Hopefully, they will understand the pressures I was under. I made money for them legitimately to start, but then I got trapped and was not able to work my way out of it."
*On the pretty prestigious work he's up to now: The first time Bernie Madoff called me, the grinding sounds of a floor buffer in the background nearly drowned him out. “It’s a prison,” Madoff said. “You wouldn’t think they need to wax the floors every day.” Madoff paused to ask his fellow-inmate to steer the machine elsewhere while he talked on the phone. Madoff would call me collect in the morning, before he started work filling orders and taking inventory at the commissary, a convenience store for the inmates. “It’s probably the best job they have here,” he told me.
**And even if it wasn't real, it should still impress your tiny brain.