On Friday evening, I watched a segment about Bernie Madoff on ABC's 20/20.
I must admit that, while I have not been following every jot and tiddle of L'Affaire Bernie, I have been generally fascinated by it. Last week's revelation that he tried to spare his poor wife the ignominy of having to do without, by having her withdraw $15 M in survival money in the weeks leading up to his confession, had me sitting here obsessing on what would be the appropriate course to take with this family, whether or not Bernie ends up in the slammer or not. Ah, but that's the topic for another day. (Hint: if her sons aren't in prison with Bernie, and can't take care of her, and if she knew nothing, Mrs. M gets a modest annuity that enables her to live out her years in Co-Op City, shop sales at Macy's, and rent movies from NetFlix.)
But I digress.
The interesting kernels in the 20/20 story were:
- Video of Bernie sitting in his comfy-cozy den, in his comfy-not-so-cozy luxe apartment, working at this computer. My question: if you had embezzled $50B out of people, wouldn't you pull your shades down so that 20/20 couldn't film you (and so that someone with far worse intent couldn't do something far worse)? What, Bernie, are you nuts? And what, Bernie, were you doing? Trying to move loot out of Swiss bank accounts before the Feds have a chance to get UBS to name names? Inquiring minds, etc., etc.
- A few weeks before Confession Day, Bernie purchased a pair of $2,000 pants, and a $1,200 shirt at a Palm Beach store called Trillion. The salesclerk who sold Bernie his Last Shirt was almost misty-eyed, relating how it was navy blue - Bernie's color. Perhaps the pants - more respectfully called trousers, I suppose - were from Kiton, which, until just last week I'd never even heard of: now it's everywhere. Where these the hangaround trousers Bernie was spotted in, while he was working away at his computer, getting up on occasion to fluff his pillows? Trillion, no doubt, will be lucky to survive the economic downturn, given their Palm Beach location and the damage that Hurricane Bernie has wrought there. But I will say this for them: the models on their web-site aren't skinny young things. They appear to be fit and attractive people in their sixties. (Next time we're in Palm, and we have a hankerin' for $2K pants, errrrr, trousers, we'll know where to shop.)
- Among Bernie's victims are the now 92 year old Zsa Zsa Gabor. Well before Paris Hilton was on the scene, Zsa Zsa was famous for being famous. A bleached out, over made up glamour-puss in fur coat, beaucoup d'bling , and cigarette holder, Zsa Zsa would appear on TV shows like Mike Douglas, calling everyone Dah-link and talking about her husbands. One of those husbands was none other than Paris Hilton's grandfather, Conrad Hilton. Her ninth, and possibly final, husband, is Prince Frederic Von Anholt. Prince Frederic, who is almost 30 years Zsa Zsa's junior, is a "prince" like I am the Queen of Romania. His title derives from his adoption - at age 35 - by an aging German Princess. Since acquiring his title, Prince Frederic, a former masseuse, is said to have adopted a number of young men, passing on the title, for the low-low price of $2M. In any case, who better than Prince Frederic to have been gulled by Bernie Madoff into investing Zsa Zsa's fortune in his now rancid funds? If we've said it once, we've said it a trillion times: you just can't make this stuff up. (Source for all this Prince Fred info? Where else? Wikipedia.)
Having grown weary of bad news on the economy, and lousy winter weather, I was briefly cheered by 20/20's delicious little report on Bernie, if only becuase it is impossible to be of a certain age and hear the name "Zsa Zsa Gabor" and not, if you can suppress the urge to burst into outright prolonged laughter, at least smile.