November 1, 2011
When her world came tumbling down, Ruth Madoff was taken completely by surprise. In fact, after her husband, Bernie, revealed that his financial empire had been built on an elaborate fraud, she looked him in the eye, and asked: “What’s a Ponzi scheme?”
Claiming that she had “no idea” of the $60bn scam, Mrs Madoff said that she nonetheless blames herself for failing to see through the elaborate lies of the man with whom she had shared her life for half a century.
“I can’t explain it. I mean, I trusted him,” she said, in her first interviews since the spectacular collapse of the family investment house just before Christmas 2008. “Why would it never occur to me that it wasn’t legal? There was nothing that would ever make me suspect.”
She initially remained in contact with Bernie, who is now serving a 150-year prison sentence for fraud. “I come from a generation where marriage meant staying put, for better or for worse. This was agonising, but I couldn’t abandon the man with whom I spent essentially my entire life.”