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The Wizard of Lies


katrina1980
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I recently watched "The Wizard of Lies" about Bernie Madoff, and the whole Ponzi scheme in which his investors lost BILLIONS of dollars.

 

I enjoyed the movie, but what I don't understand is that many of his investors invested years and years of life savings, totaling millions of dollars EACH.

 

I mean, how much money does one need anyway? You already have 5 million dollars, and you want to invest all of it, risk losing all of it, for what? More money, more than 5 million?

 

Bernie said many of his investors were greedy, and I would have to agree with him.

 

That still does not make what he did right, but when one invests money, any amount of money, there is always a huge risk that you could lose it.

 

And to a private investor? I would never trust my life savings in the millions to a private investor, and some of these people invested ALL their money.

 

I dunno, I am so torn about this because these people are deemed "victims" but they had to know the risk involved and chose on their own accord to take the risk.

 

Again, Bernie Madoff did a very very horrible thing, unconscionable really, I acknowledge that.

 

I just don't get why these investors are deemed "victims" that's what I am having trouble understanding.

 

Did anyone see the movie? If so, what are your thoughts?

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You.... don’t see how people who were scammed are victims? I don’t get that mentality either.

 

They were scammed. Money was stolen from them. Their money wasn’t invested like they intended, but used in a scheme. How could they NOT be victims?

 

Frankly, I’m surprised you feel this way at all.

 

ETA - and, for the record, the stock market is a very safe investment on the whole. It averages up many more years than down. It can tank, but it generally returns. I invest almost all my savings because saving it is literally losing money.

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I don't feel any way about it. I posted I didn't understand it all the way, that I was (am) just confused about it, I didn't follow it when it originally happened.

 

One woman interviewed said it was actually the best thing to happen to her as up until then her whole life was about money -- making money, making more money and accumulating "things" - toys.

 

After losing all of it, she took stock of her life and what's important and realized things are just things, she still had good health, her children, her husband and she became a different person, and happier!

 

She has since become an author writing about the experience and how it changed her for the better.

 

She does not consider herself a victim. In fact, she said she hates being referred to that way.

 

Anyway, thanks for responding, could do without the judgment as again I was simply seeking some understanding about it from those who know more about it, but appreciate your taking the time to post your thoughts..

Edited by katrina1980
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These people were absolutely victims, and he's a criminal who is exactly where he belongs.

 

Their level of perceived greed is irrelevant. A crime was committed.

 

As to why they kept their money with an individual investor, this happens all the time. There are hundreds of thousands of private equity managers like Madoff who are honest; we just don't hear of them because they make an honest living investing people's money. I was married to one....an honest one.

 

Of course there is risk involved, but there's risk regardless of where one invests.

 

Smart investors don't keep all their money in one place, but rather diversify. We know of all the big name investment houses, like Fidelity, Dreyfus/Mellon, Merrill, Vanguard. We just don't know the names of the individual private equity managers, as well, they're private. But many of Madoff's investors had money elsewhere, as it's smart to do so.

 

My sister's husband's 90-something grandmother lost all her money by a Madoff type, right after he was exposed. She went from living a comfortable retirement lifestyle to counting pennies. It was hard to watch.

 

As to how much more than $5 million a person "needs", that's up to that person. $5 million is really not a lot of money.

 

But "need" is different for different people. Heck, Jeff Bezos makes more in an hour than I make in a year, and that's cool by me.

 

The book "The End of Normal", by Stephanie Madoff, is very interesting and a great read. She was the 2nd wife of one of Madoff's son, and the story is interesting from her perspective. I think you'd like it. It's the story from her POV, as well as the story of how they met, and their courtship, as well as difficulties she had fitting into his life with his ex-wife and kid, so a lot of relationship issues as well.

 

But I appreciate your point of view. Yes, it's just "things", as that woman interviewed said, but it's also rent, groceries, clothing. As I said, it was hard to watch this 90-something grandmother in my sister's husband's family have to scrape for money from the family. Like it or not, we need money to pay the bills.

Edited by LHGirl
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I mean, how much money does one need anyway? You already have 5 million dollars, and you want to invest all of it, risk losing all of it, for what? More money, more than 5 million?

 

Bernie said many of his investors were greedy, and I would have to agree with him.

 

[...]

 

I dunno, I am so torn about this because these people are deemed "victims" but they had to know the risk involved and chose on their own accord to take the risk.

 

Again, Bernie Madoff did a very very horrible thing, unconscionable really, I acknowledge that.

 

I just don't get why these investors are deemed "victims" that's what I am having trouble understanding.

 

All due respect, you clearly DO feel some kind of way. Implying they aren’t victims is why I may sound judgemental because it’s shocking.

 

It’s equivalent to saying “well, she wore that skimpy dress ... she knew the risk”

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My mom and step dad lost everything to an investor. Now my step dad has to work until he drops dead. He is 80 this year and still works full time . He lost his entire pension to someone he trusted. Then the company he used to work for went bankrupt so they lost their benefits. So I get to watch my mom and stepdad do with out when they busted their ass their whole life.

 

People like Madoff should rot in hell.

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Thanks guys.

 

So I did a bit more reading about it; re the movie, many reviewers criticized it stating its focus was more on the Madoff family than the victims.

 

It downplayed how they were in fact victimized and after spending a good part of the night reading articles and researching facts about the whole situation, which up until now I had been ignorant about, I agree, they were victims.

 

Lied to, stolen from, scammed. I believe even his own family were victims. Mark committing suicide, another tragedy. So so sad.

 

I still struggle with how people could risk trusting all their money, in the millions in many cases, to one person, but that is their business, not for me to judge what they choose to do with their own money.

 

LHG, thank you for the book recommendation, I am going to order it today. It definitely sounds like something I would enjoy and take something positive from. :)

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I still struggle with how people could risk trusting all their money, in the millions in many cases, to one person, but that is their business, not for me to judge what they choose to do with their own money.

 

I do too! I mean, how could anyone risk all their money with one person? When my ex-husband was a financial advisor, they always worked to get clients who were already investing in other places, to give them a portion of their assets to invest....not everything.

 

This happened to a good friend's family. They (now admit, stupidly) gave all their money to an individual to invest (not Madoff), and he absconded with it all, and her now-widowed mom is broke. When I heard the story, I was thinking....there should be other money, in other places. But no, it was all with this one guy. Dirty Johns and Madoff's are all around us.

 

I think you'll like the book, K. I won't spoil it for you, but it's just a really interesting read, and I think we all see ourselves in her shoes just a little bit sometimes, with respect to the relationship issues. She's this really cute girl, living her life in NYC, spending mornings at spin class while she has a job working for a fashion designer, when she gets set up with Mark Madoff, this handsome, super nice guy, and it's hers/their story, along with her take on Ruth. I'll be interested in your thoughts!

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Bernie Madoff was well regarded in many communities, particularly the Jewish community. People claimed success with him (likely before the Ponzi scheme really got going) and so he had "good reviews" so to speak. Eli Wiesel (Holocaust survivor) was one of the victims and Madoff basically bankrupted his charity foundation.

 

Are there risks to investing? Absolutely. But the investor pocketing the money in a Ponzi scheme is not one of those acceptable risks. That is a grevious, bad act.

 

It's like having sex without a condom in committed, monogamous relationship. You may get a yeast infection or you may get pregnant if you're not on the pill and you may look at that as "well what did you think would happen / these things happen". But woild you say that to someone who got a nasty STD from their committed partner who cheated behind their back? Woild you say "you're not really a victim. That's part of the risk of having condomless sex even if you're with a committed partner!"

 

No. There's a big difference.

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I just watched an interview with the author of The Wizard of Lies (YouTube), which was made into the HBO movie, I just watched.

 

She admitted she wanted to "humanize" Bernie, which she did! Hence my original opinion.

 

Many true crime authors will do that.

 

Truman Capote did when he wrote "In Cold Blood." Norman Mailer did when he wrote "The Executioner's Song."

 

I walked away from reading both those books somewhat sympathizing with the killers!

 

I don't think that was the authors' intention, only to humanize them to a certain extent. But there was quite a bit of controversy at the time about it, both books received high praise, Norman Mailer won a Pulitzer Prize.

 

Anyway, I am like obsessed with this story now, reading all I can!

 

Bernie's last words in the movie were "am I a sociopath"?

 

Yes Bernie, I think the answer to that is a resounding YES!

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I just watched an interview with the author of The Wizard of Lies (YouTube), which was made into the HBO movie, I just watched.

 

She admitted she wanted to "humanize" Bernie, which she did! Hence my original opinion.

 

Many true crime authors will do that.

 

Truman Capote did when he wrote "In Cold Blood." Norman Mailer did when he wrote "The Executioner's Song."

 

I walked away from reading both those books somewhat sympathizing with the killers!

 

I don't think that was the authors' intention, only to humanize them to a certain extent. But there was quite a bit of controversy at the time about it, both books received high praise, Norman Mailer won a Pulitzer Prize.

 

Anyway, I am like obsessed with this story now, reading all I can!

 

Bernie's last words in the movie were "am I a sociopath"?

 

Yes Bernie, I think the answer to that is a resounding YES!

 

Interesting take, to "humanize" a sociopathic criminal. I mean, I guess her intent was to show him as a full man, not just as the horrible acts of crime he committed.

 

When he was asked why he did it, he never really had an answer. He just said that he started with the first person, showing them larger gains than were reality, as those "gains" were really coming from the next investor. And then he did another, and another, and it ballooned into where he felt he "couldn't" stop. My guess is, he got off on the thrill of knowing he was conning people, all the while eating expensive steak dinners and drinking fine wine.

 

Sickening.

 

I don't think that the love of money = greed. For many (most), it equals security, comfort, ability to sleep peacefully. For someone like Madoff, it went beyond greed, to this sociopathic/psychopathic "need" to hoodwink. He felt like a bigger, better man when he could fool people who had more money than he did, knowing that while they were smoking expensive cigars, their accounts were being drained by him. Dirty Bernie indeed.

 

He will rot in prison, while he ruined his own family. He has offspring, grandchildren, who bear the name Madoff. There was a thread here about changing one's name; if ever there were a reason to change a name, this would be it.

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I agree LHG, sadly however he is not rotting in prison.

 

I watched a Barbara Walters interview with him after being in prison a few years -- he claims he is happier than ever now as he no longer lives in fear, which apparently he did for YEARS prior to being convicted.

 

He works in the commissary, is a voracious reader, books, newspapers, etc. has good relationships with the other inmates.

 

He said he feels tremendous guilt about what he did (which in truth is doubtful) and is at peace for the most part. Which is something he never felt before.

 

Ruth, his wife, however is really stuggling even today.

 

She is out in the "real" world, and gets criticized and shunned daily. Has no friends anymore. She has become pretty much a loner.

 

So tragic!!

 

Tonight I will be watching on amazon prime video, the miniseries "Madoff" which aired on ABC in 2016.

 

Richard Dreyfus plays Bernie, Blythe Danner, his wife.

 

I read it's a much more true depiction of what happened to the victims and the loss they suffered, not only monetarily but emotionally and mentally.

 

Even physically as a few committed suicide. One in particular slashing his wrists over a garbage can.

 

I read all this last night and this morn, after my original post.

Edited by katrina1980
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