A simple question for Madoff watchersDecember 23, 2008: 3:53 PM ET
I've read a lot about the whole Bernie Madoff thing now, and questions still remain. I'll leave most of them to the forensic accountants and the gumshoes now on the trail of who knew what, when. I do have one very simple one I'd like to offer anybody within the sound of my voice.
Where's the money?
I know this seems like a rudimentary issue, and one I'm sure a lot of people are investigating right now. But I've attended a number of meetings, parties and private conversations over the last week or so that Madoff has been front page news, and I have yet to get a clear answer.
Where's the money? If the location has been revealed anywhere in video, print or online, I've missed it.
Is it possible that he and his family spent it? I don't think so. Even the greediest jerk in the world would have a hard time unloading $50 billion on sundries like houses, cars, boats, planes, even. If you spent like a manic chicken for decades, it's hard to see how you would put out more than, say, $5 billion. I've made a list of things I would get if I had Madoff's war chest and I'm afraid I can't even get to that single digit number.
Did he give it to charity? No, he seems to have preyed on charities as well as on the gullible wealthy. Yeshiva even gave him an honorary degree while he allegedly was fleecing them.
Did he share it with cohorts? Perhaps. Maybe there's something to that. Maybe we'll find out that some of those who were ostensibly gulled were in fact themselves intermediaries who profited from the credulous losers who helped to erect this particular pyramid out of golden bricks and platinum straw. Still, $50 billion? That's a lot of vigorish to spread around without leaving some footprint in the dust.
So... where's the money?
Do any of you know? I'm really asking. Perhaps if it's just lying around somewhere, we could go and pick up some of it. And if the guy still has any, don't you think it would be appropriate to get it back? A whole bunch of people are missing it pretty badly, particularly at this festive time of year.