Nobody knew Bernie like I did, and nobody knows about me…
Sheryl Weinstein met Bernie Madoff when she was just shy of forty, and went on to have a twenty-year secret, intimate relationship with the man now known as an evil mastermind, a villain of the greatest proportions.
It was 1988 and Sheryl was facing a huge dilemma. Bernie Madoff was paying her a great deal of attention. She was in the midst of a rocky marriage and feeling vulnerable, when the powerful Wall Street mogul began making overtures. As a successful CPA and head of a major charitable organization, she had a lot to lose. She directed him to take things slowly.
Over the next five years, there were business meetings over lunch, followed by intimate dinners in hotel rooms and finally, private moments that for a time seemed intensely satisfying to them both. "I'm not to be trusted," he once told her casually. She ignored it, having no idea how prophetic those words would be. After all, her relationship with Bernie was passionate and profound. She felt desirable. She was the one nobody knew about, with the window into the real man. So careful about investing her money, when the SEC cleared him in 1992 she decided to get in all the way--with her heart, her soul--and her financial future.
Sheryl was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She couldn't possibly have imagined the devastation that would befall her. Learning the truth was shattering on so many levels.
Many books are being written about the scale of Madoff's fraud, but until now, nothing has shown the man through private eyes. Sheryl Weinstein's riveting story reveals a Madoff who will shock and surprise you. From the boardroom to the bedroom, in each other, the two found something that had been lacking in their own lives. It's a story with tragic overtones--a drama that only now could find a devastating conclusion.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||3 MB|
About the Author
Sheryl Weinstein, former CFO of Hadassah and controller of Lincoln Center has seen Madoff up close for more than twenty years, as she reveals in MADOFF'S OTHER SECRET: LOVE, MONEY, BERNIE AND ME.
Sheryl Weinstein, former CFO of Hadassah and controller of Lincoln Center has seen Madoff up close for more than twenty years, as she reveals in MADOFF’S OTHER SECRET: LOVE, MONEY, BERNIE AND ME.
Read an Excerpt
Madoff's Other Secret
Love, Money, Bernie, and Me
By Sheryl Weinstein
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Sheryl Weinstein
All rights reserved.
It was nine A.M. on February 25, 1988, when I stepped out of the cab in front of the red-enameled granite-and-steel building at 885 Third Avenue and pushed my way into the glistening, glass-enclosed lobby. It was New York's famed Lipstick Building, the name given to the thirty-four-story East Side skyscraper that stretches between Fifty-third and Fifty-fourth streets.
Since its completion two years earlier, the three-tiered, ultramodern structure had drawn many admirers. They viewed its curves and jazzy red hue as a welcome contrast to the black-and-white, sharp-edged design of its neighbor the Citicorp Center. Lipstick Building designers John Burgee and Philip Johnson were being hailed for the building's sleek, elliptical lines and its unusual egg-shaped lobby. The lobby soared two stories high and incorporated a pedestrian walkway. The structure was so fanciful and pleasing, it would have been hard to imagine anything so apocalyptic could be percolating within its walls.
I was curious to check it out for myself and set off toward the bank of elevators in the lobby. The much-touted Toscana Restaurant occupied a large chunk on the Fifty-fourth Street side. I would just take a quick peek inside, not wanting to be late for my 9:15 meeting on the eighteenth floor with the principal of the brokerage house that bore his name.
As chief financial officer of Hadassah, a Jewish charitable organization of 350,000-plus women, I'd been asked to accompany three of our executive volunteers to a meeting to discuss the logistics of a donation. It wasn't part of my typical agenda, but this was no ordinary transaction.
The donor, an elderly man named Albert I., lived in France, and wanted to remain anonymous. He'd earmarked $7 million to fund a specialized medical facility to be founded by one of our doctors. The only caveats to the donation, at the time the largest Hadassah had received from a single benefactor, were that the money be used to support the facility and that a New York broker named Bernard Madoff manage the funds.
This was the first time we'd had a donor stipulate how the monies were to be held and invested. Normally, they would just be given directly to Hadassah. The request was a bit unusual, but it made sense. It was a large sum, and if managed properly it could grow even as it funded Hadassah's work. Mr. Madoff was to disburse the funds as they were needed. In the office, we referred to Albert I. as our "French connection."
I was already on my third piece of Nicorette when I heard our president, Ruth P., calling to me from across the lobby. I had stopped smoking more than a year ago and was still using the gum to pacify my urge to light up. I wasn't sure if I'd be successful at quitting smoking for good, since I'd already failed twice before. I'd promised my son I'd give it another try after he came home from school in tears. His teacher had given a presentation about the dangers of smoking, and he was convinced I was going to die. I made a personal "reverse psychological" pact with myself that if I failed this time, I would never try to quit again. To this day, twenty-three years later, I have never smoked another cigarette.
Hastening past a colonnade of granite pillars, my heels clickingon the polished granite floors, I arrived at the bank of elevators, where Ruth and the others were waiting. Our treasurer, Debbie K., and Bernice T., chairwoman of Hadassah International, greeted me as I fought to catch my breath. Bernice was the one who'd made the initial contact with our donor during a trip to Paris. She wanted to be at the meeting to finalize the transaction and meet the man who would be managing the funds.
None of us at Hadassah had ever heard of Bernard Madoff or his firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. Apparently, our donor had met him through a personal introduction some years back. We were all a bit surprised that the donor was declining even the smallest recognition: no honorary plaque, no commemorative inscription, not even a framed certificate of thanks. While it struck me as odd, it didn't raise any red flags, although now in retrospect, I wish I had asked more questions about his desire for anonymity.
I was already rummaging around in my purse for another piece of Nicorette when the elevator doors opened onto the eighteenth floor. The offices were contemporary and stark with glass walls that served as partitions dividing the space. The color scheme was masculine, black and silver right down to the financial prospectus and other printed materials in the reception area. We were led to a windowed conference room with a fabulous city panorama.
"Please wait here, Mr. Madoff will be right with you," the receptionist instructed.
I knew from past meetings that Ruth didn't like to sit with her back to a door, so I waited for her to get situated at the conference table, then I sat down directly across from her. This way, I could pick up any nonverbal cues she might telegraph during our meeting and still enjoy the Manhattan skyline beyond the sparkling double-paned windows.
We had been in the conference room about five minutes when I sensed footsteps in the hallway behind me. I didn't see Mr. Madoff when he first entered the room, but I watched as Ruth's eyes widened, her thin lips parting in a contented grin. Turning to look, I observed that he was wearing a cardigan. His casual attire seemed contrived in its subtlety, as if to say, I'm relaxed and in control; trust me! It was one of the only times I would ever see him so casually dressed.
"Hello, ladies. I'm Bernie Madoff," he said, striding to the head of the conference table, where he stopped, placed his hands on the table, leaned forward slightly, and nodded his head in greeting.
When his gaze fell on me, he blinked and looked a bit surprised. I'm sure he was expecting a group of elderly Jewish women, and I was certainly an exception to the case. At thirty-nine, I was younger than my colleagues by morethan two decades. He gave me a welcoming smile, a smile I'll never forget. Itwasn't lewd and lascivious, but slightly seductive and almost happy. I knewinstantly that he was attracted to me.
Though I'd felt an instant surge of connection, I wasn't particularly attracted to him — he didn't have the pretty-boy features I preferred. Still, there was something in him that piqued my interest.
A few minutes into the meeting Bernie had to step out to take a call. As soon as the door closed behind him, the women at the table began making comments. "I had no idea he would be so good-looking," one said.
I was a little surprised by their remarks. I didn't find him particularly handsome. What I was reacting to went much deeper. My female intuition was telling me there was something else going on with this man; there was an intrinsic sensuality about him that was both attractive and alluring. Yet there was also an oily slickness that I found disconcerting. When the meeting continued, Bernie kept catching my eye in a way that was different from how he looked at the other women in the room. And when he wasn't looking at me, I found myself admiring his distinctive profile.
Before the end of our first meeting, Bernie and I had exchanged business cards. As the caretaker of Hadassah's finances, I would have to speak with him occasionally to discuss how the funds were being invested. But I also knew Bernie would be calling me regardless. Women have a way of sensing these things, so I wasn't surprised when a few days later he phoned my office to let me knowthat the donation had been transferred.
"Albert has deposited the money," he said. "Would you like to get together and discuss investment strategies?"
"Of course," I replied.
"Why don't you come over and have lunch at my office? We'll talk about it then."CHAPTER 2
When I arrived at Bernie's office, I was again escorted to the conference room. The table was set for lunch. Two place settings were arranged with contemporary glassware and china. In the few minutes I waited for Bernie to join me, I wondered if I would experience that same powerful connection I'd felt during our first meeting. Looking out over the city, I thought about how nice it felt to be noticed by a man, especially one as influential and successful as Bernie.
I'd been married for sixteen years, and still I'd felt alone a long time. My husband, Ronnie, could be a difficult man. He had a temper and suffered from significant mood swings. One minute he'd be on top of the world, and the next he'd be raging over something minor and certainly not worthy of a knock-down, drag-out battle.
Ronnie was a contradiction. An all-around partner, he cleaned and cooked, and not a day went by when he didn't bring me coffee in bed. He was also a consummate parent to our son, Eric. When Eric was young, Ronnie would spend hours on end playing games with him. In the morning, he was up early preparing breakfast. There were never any lumps in Eric's Cream of Wheat. He had the cleanest ears in New York City. When I was traveling with Hadassah, Ronnie would drop him off at school and get him ready for sleepaway camp.
On the surface, Ronnie was engaging and personable. People who didn't really know him thought he was a very easygoing guy. However, those near and dear to him had seen his "dark side." A lot of anger would surface if he felt he had lost control. He liked order and neatness. If Eric didn't put his things away, Ronnie would lose patience and become annoyed.
When he felt pressured, he would take it out on me. I was the perfect scapegoat. For years, I had tried and failed to reduce his stress by taking responsibility for our finances, our marriage, and the everyday necessities. I tried to avoid pushing the buttons that sent him over the edge, but my attempts to calm him were becoming less and less effective and more and more exhausting.
I became aware of Ronnie's mercurial behavior even before we were married. It made itself evident after only a few months of dating. Ronnie's mood swings were often unpredictable. He would change from a smiling, sweet guy to a scowling, furious one in a heartbeat. The first time it happened we were out at a club dancing and I got tired and walked off the dance floor without giving him sufficient notice. Ronnie became angry, feeling that I had made him look silly. He was extremely sensitive and easily upset.
Another time, we went skiing. I was a novice skier and felt nervous as I approached the mountain. Ronnie, on the other hand, was an excellent skier. Having attended the University of Denver, he'd had plenty of practice. As he traversed the slopes, he was the picture of grace and fluidity. We were on the beginner slope as he attempted to coax me down the hill. I was trying to snowplow but couldn't stop and ended up plowing right into him, knocking him down. He was furious, feeling that I had made him look ridiculous. He skied away in a huff.
Later that evening, we were in the lodge playing Ping-Pong and I mentioned that I had been a fabulous player in college. It was New Year's Eve. I was in a long dress when he challenged me to a game. I think we played fifteen or sixteen rounds. When I told him I was exhausted, he got mad, making me play until he finally won.
In order to cope with the stress of my marriage, I distanced myself from Ronnie spiritually and emotionally. I had built a successful career that allowed me to travel and have a life of my own. Throughout the years, I carried on a pseudoemotional relationship with my old college boyfriend, Joey. I would see him periodically because, unlike with my husband, I was able to confide in him about the distress I was experiencing in my life. He made me feel good, and there was a part of me that wanted to resume our relationship. But I was too frightened because of our history.
I was eighteen and a virgin when I met Joey during the second semester of my freshman year at New York State University at Buffalo. It was the six-month anniversary of my grandmother's death. She'd been diagnosed with cancer the previous year, and died two days before I left to go to college.
I was still in mourning that March day in 1967 when I met Joey. I'd gotten spruced up a bit to lift my spirits and Joey noticed immediately. He was one year ahead of me and ranked at the top of his class at the university's business school. He was very, very thin, something I before had never found particularly attractive. In high school, I'd always dated well-built football hunks.
It was mostly Joey's extroverted personality that attracted me. He was an avid reader who loved stimulating conversation and a good debate. He was an intellectual shark, always looking for something new to learn. Being with him was never boring. On our first date, he told me we could never marry. He was a Syrian Jew, and had to marry within his community. I was an Ashkenazi Jew. His parents would not have approved. I didn't take him seriously. I thought it was just a silly line. We dated for more than a year, often sleeping together in the same bed. There was petting but no oral sex or intercourse. I simply wasn't emotionally prepared to take the big step.
We had been dating for more than a year before we finally had sex, and we'd been sleeping together for a couple of years before I had my first orgasm. I thought it felt really great, but I was so naive, I didn't realize what had happened.
As strange as this may seem, it wasn't until after we broke up that I discovered the art of masturbating to climax.
Giving up my virginity was special. I felt totally connected to Joey emotionally and physically, and I believed that we would eventually be married. That commitment made me feel incredibly vulnerable. I don't think Joey understood how hurtful it was when he disappeared without a word for days or weeks at a time. I'd call around looking for him, terrified that something dreadful had happened. The first time he went missing in action we were home for summer break. I thought I would be seeing a lot of him even though I was on Long Island and he was in Brooklyn for the summer. One night, he took me to New York City. It was my first official city date. We dined at Toots Shor's and then went to the Copacabana. When I excused myself to use the ladies' room, Joey handed me a dollar to tip the attendant. I had rarely been to Manhattan, and I knew nothing about attended ladies' rooms. He was opening up a whole new world for me, one I fell in love with for the rest of my life.
For the next couple of weeks, we would see each other, and then one day he called to say I'd left my jacket in his car. He was going to drive it out to me on Long Island. I was excited to see him, and when he arrived I answered the door eagerly. He told me he was going away to San Francisco for the rest of the summer. I was all of eighteen and heartbroken. Suddenly I realized that this was his way of breaking up with me without really doing it. I felt as though my world had just collapsed around me as I stood in the darkness of my bedroom watching out the window as a mysterious female passenger reached over and gave him a big hug and kiss.
Joey and I ran into each other on campus when we returned to college in the fall, and by December our relationship was back on. Our on-again, off-again love affair stretched over almost four years, with similar dramas unfolding along the way. Every time I felt we were getting closer, something would happen or a new girl would show up. In retrospect, Joey's commitment and intimacy issues were partly the cause of his escapist mentality. Perhaps he was trying to accommodate his parents' wish that he marry a Syrian Jew. All of this explained his long and painful absences. But back then, I felt responsible and was always trying to "fix everything," believing there was something wrong with me. I ended up transferring to New York University in my junior year to be with him after learning he was not returning to college in Buffalo. I didn't know it at the time, but he had to be in New York to address draft-related issues. It was the middle of the Vietnam War and young men were being drafted. As was his usual modus operandi, he'd waited until the night before I was scheduled to leave for fall semester to tell me he'd transferred to a school in New York. I was inconsolable.
Excerpted from Madoff's Other Secret by Sheryl Weinstein. Copyright © 2009 Sheryl Weinstein. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very disappointing book and a complete waste of time and money. The author appears to be an over imaginitive narcistic attention seeker sadly stuck in fantasy land. Nothing in this book is surprising or insightful. It appears that this woman made up the alleged affair for publicity and money.
Ms. Weinstein alledges a 20 year affair with Madoff, however each photo presented in the book are those of recent newspaper and magazine articles. Not one of them together. I'm not defending Mr.Madoff, however this book was clearly written for the cash!!!! "Hers"!!!!!! She contradicts herself on every page. This book is a figment of her imagination.
Is this person serious? Aside from her obnoxious expectation that anyone cares about this nasty lifestyle and her sense of self importance, we are talking ancient history. Do not waste time or money.