Appraising Madoff

Appraising Madoff... Thankfully No Tears Are Shed For HimIt was a bit surprising how little attention was paid to the announcement of Madoff’s death in prison. Good.

His returns were amazingly linear and there were a number of people that kept calling out the ponzi but he was close with regulators.

Madoff returns

Because my firm is located in NYC, we’ve ended up doing appraisals in matters related to the post-Madoff tragedy/cleanup. All those people who trusted in him that had their finances destroyed – still hard to process.

In the aftermath, we appraised the properties of his wife, brother, both of his sons (the apartment where one sons committed suicide, and the other who died of cancer). I remember that infamous perp walk and talking to our appraisers about the news. One of our staff mentioned that he had been in the son’s apartment (the one who eventually died of cancer) and the soon to be ex-wife with kids in a luxury apartment telling him to the effect that her husband was an idiot because he was already engaged to his next wife and wasn’t divorced yet.

Every time I saw the Bernie Madoff perp walk after that I thought about that woman and how shocking it must have been to suddenly realize her path in life was instantly changed forever that she could have never forseen. I met Madoff’s brother while inspecting his apartment the day before he went to prison. He was literally saying goodbye to his family on the phone as I walked the apartment. The next day I saw his perp walk in television. It was a surreal experience.

I never appraised one of Bernie’s properties but was brought into the CNN studio to talk about his Manhattan coop and Montauk homes.

The CNN video (which I can’t find online anymore), was surreal too. The U.S. Marshal’s office was selling the property and did a video walk through the Montauk estate (incidentally the Zestimate at that time inflated its value by about double what the home actually sold for). Imagine a U.S. Marshal, wearing a blue raincoat with yellow block letters “U.S. Marshal” on the back, and his gun bulging under the jacket on his right hand side, making sweeping arm movements and using the phrase “understated elegance” twice as he pointed to the living room, and later the antique dresser, in the master bedroom.

When I was about to do a Bloomberg TV interview with Deirdre Bolton (the clip is gone now) on the Bernie Madoff properties in 2009 – the Manhattan market seemed to be a black hole (you get sense of it in my then column for Huffington Post after the September 2008 “Lehman Moment.” I happened to bump into anchor Tom Keene who tweeted:

Jonathan Miller
Image credit flickr - Bob B. Brown
Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller is President and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and consulting firm he co-founded in 1986. He is a state-certified real estate appraiser in New York and Connecticut, performing court testimony as an expert witness in various local, state and federal courts.

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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Diana N says:

    Very interesting reading. Sorry to say I certainly don’t feel sorry for anyone in that family.

  2. Avatar Ross Field says:

    A great read, Jonathan. It’s funny how some people are so easily drawn to too-good-to-be true finance schemes. Until it isn’t funny anymore that is…

  3. Baggins Baggins says:

    Fun factoid; Bernie was for a time the front runner to be the next Federal Reserve chairperson. He broke through and found a way to boost figures without actually counterfeiting the money, people took notice. Nothing is for free.

    If you are seriously motivated to find something from the past on the internet, learn to use the ‘way back machine’. It’s an internet website with remarkable capabilities as it continually scrapes every public domain ip and mirrors content from decades past. At one time it was touted as the grandest internet project ever implemented.


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Appraising Madoff

by Jonathan Miller time to read: 2 min