WASHINGTON – The Joker-esque New York magazine cover’s headline reads “Bernie Madoff, Monster.” The magazine cover is an artifact on display at the Crime Museum’s exhibit devoted to the man responsible for the nation’s most notorious modern Ponzi scheme.
Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to 11 federal felonies including money laundering, perjury and wire fraud. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison and ordered to pay $170 billion in restitution.
“He was a serial killer in the financial world,” says Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer of the National Museum of Crime & Punishment.
Standing in front of a small case displaying a few dozen Madoff-related items, Vaccarello says Madoff’s fraudulent investment operation not only ruined thousands of investors’ financial futures, it remains fascinating to the public. And now his misdeeds are featured in a permanent exhibit at the museum.
“How could this happen? How could someone be that cruel?” wondered Vaccarello.
Many of the items were provided by Madoff’s son, Andy, who worked for his father’s company, along with his brother, Mark.
Andy Madoff has not talked to his father since his arrest, expressing anger that his father would allow his sons to be involved in the scam.
Mark Madoff committed suicide two years after his father’s arrest.
On display is a handwritten apology letter to Andy Madoff that his father wrote in prison on a piece of loose leaf paper.
“Andy, I’m so very sorry for everything. Please never forget how much I love you and Mark. Dad,” the letter reads.
“When we got this, it’s even more profound, the fact that there are so little words,” says Vaccarello.
Also in the display case are Madoff’s keys to his office, his business card, a mouse pad and a baseball bat engraved with his name.
Madoff has since issued an apology to his victims saying, “I have left a legacy of shame,” and “I’m sorry…I know that doesn’t help you.”
Madoff remains in a federal prison in Butner, N.C.
The exhibit opened to the public Tuesday. Visit crimemuseum.org for more information.