Wall Street financier Bernie Madoff’s $20 billion dollar Ponzi scheme was such a destructive crime, it affected thousands of victims. Investors lost their life savings, their homes, and in some cases their lives. Madoff’s own family was also instantly torn apart from the moment he revealed his crime.
His wife, Ruth, was left bewildered, supposedly unaware of what Bernie had been up to all those years. His sons, who turned him in to the FBI the same day he confessed to them, both died in their 40s — Mark, from suicide, and Andrew, from a rare form of blood cancer. Each son also left behind both an ex-wife, and a current partner. A few of them have spoken out since the revelation of Bernie’s crimes, but they’re all living a life of relative seclusion. This is where Bernie Madoff’s sons’ wives are today.
Mark’s widow, Stephanie Mack, also wrote a book
Catherine Hooper isn’t the only author in the Madoff family. Mark’s widow, Stephanie Madoff Mack, also put pen to paper in 2011 with her memoir, The End of Normal: A Wife’s Anguish, A Widow’s New Life. In excerpts published by The Daily Beast, Mack’s book reveals the painful details of the fallout that the family experienced as a result of Bernie’s crimes, including Mark’s first suicide attempt, which happened approximately one year before he tragically succeeded in taking his own life.
Mack’s book also shed light on the strained relationship she had with Ruth Madoff, who Mack accused of making “constant little digs and comments used to feed my animosity toward Mark’s ex-wife, Susan,” according to excerpts published by Vanity Fair. “Ruth loved to build you up, and then not so much knock you down as flick you aside,” Mack writes. She also vehemently defends Mark’s innocence throughout the book, even calling him a “hero” for intervening in time to stop the alleged $140 million dollars in bonus checks Bernie intended to distribute to employees just before his arrest. “That was a $140 million holdup-in-progress that my husband and his brother stopped,” she writes.
Stephanie Mack changed her name in 2010
According to a 2012 interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Stephanie and Mark decided together that she should change her last name in order to escape the scrutiny that the Madoff moniker would forever carry. They chose Mack by “combining M from Madoff with ACK, the airport code for their beloved Nantucket.”
The subject of the name change is something of a sticking point for the family, particularly between Stephanie and Andrew, who suggested to author Laurie Sandell (via The Daily Mail) that the name change was an indicator of bigger problems in their relationship, and that Mark even feared that Stephanie was about to leave him during this time. Stephanie has denied this claim multiple times, but the rift between Stephanie and the Madoffs has remained.
The Harper’s Bazaar interview is the most recent public life update that Stephanie has given. At the time of that interview, she said that her relationship with Bernie was non-existent, and that a continuing relationship with Ruth is based entirely on whether her children “show interest in wanting to know who their grandmother is.”
Catherine Hooper still maintains Andrew knew nothing about the Ponzi scheme
Though the sisters-in-law painted differing accounts of the family dynamic in their respective memoirs (Hooper heavily contributed to Laurie Sandell’s Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family), they both agree on one thing: Their husbands were innocent. As I previously mentioned, Mack went so far as to refer to Mark as a “hero.” Hooper actually echoes this exact sentiment.
Speaking to People, she said, “They were after him relentlessly and they never came up with anything. So yeah, I would love it if he had been recognized in his lifetime for the whistleblower he was and the enormous amount of personal strength it took him to turn in his father to the FBI, and at the most emotional moment of this life,” adding, “Andrew was absolutely a hero for what he did. So yeah, of course I wish he’d been recognized for what he did… but he wasn’t and you just can’t dwell on that.”
What’s next for the former Madoff sons’ wives?
Aside from Catherine Hooper’s 2017 People interview, the former Madoff wives have effectively maintained years of media silence. As I mentioned, Susan Elkin and Deborah West barely made a blip in the media frenzy surrounding the scandal, outside of the dubious information provided by “sources” and “insiders.”
Hooper and Mack, while decidedly more media-friendly, have also reigned in their public lives. Hooper has yet to move on romantically, instead telling People that she still “needs a little more time.” Mack hasn’t done any recent interviews, and her personal instagram is private, but it links to a professional account, where she identifies herself as a stylist, and links to a professional website that offers a link to book appointments. The professional Instagram account has only been up since December of 2016, and there’s not much public info available on the business.
Though their lives were all undoubtedly ripped apart and marred by unthinkable tragedy, it seems like each woman linked to the infamous Madoff family has been able to move on in their own way.