Bernie Madoff Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Earnings

Bernie Madoff Net Worth 

Bernie Madoff had an estimated net worth of -$17 Billion at death. Bernie Madoff was a former stockbroker who ran his multibillion-dollar firm as a grand-scale Ponzi scheme. He earned most of his income from his Ponzi scheme which was worth about $64.8 billion.

Bernie Madoff founded his investment firm in 1960 with $5,000 he earned from lifeguarding and installing sprinkler systems. Madoff’s firm provided consistent returns, and his clients included celebrities such as Steven Spielberg. Madoff was arrested in December 2008 for running an elaborate Ponzi scheme and pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts in March 2009. The 71-year-old was sentenced to 150 years in prison that summer.

To calculate the net worth of Bernie Madoff, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Bernie Madoff
Net Worth: -$17 Billion
Monthly Salary: $1 Million
Annual Income: $100 Million
Source of Wealth: Ponzi scheme

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Early Life

Bernard Lawrence Madoff was born in Queens, New York, on April 29, 1938, to Ralph and Sylvia Madoff. Ralph, the son of Polish immigrants, worked as a plumber for many years. Sylvia, his wife, was a housewife who was the daughter of Romanian and Austrian immigrants. Ralph and Sylvia married in the midst of the Great Depression in 1932. They became involved in finance after struggling financially for many years.

Records of Madoff’s financial dealings show that the trade was not a success. In the 1960s, his mother registered as a broker-dealer, using the Madoffs’ Queens home address as the office for a company called Gibraltar Securities. The SEC ordered the company’s closure because it failed to report its financial condition. The couple’s home also had a more than $13,000 tax lien that went unpaid from 1956 to 1965. Many people suspected that the company and the loans were all a ruse for Ralph’s shady dealings.

During this time, Madoff was less interested in finance and more focused on his girlfriend Ruth Alpern, whom he met at Far Rockaway High School. Madoff was also a member of the school swim team. When Madoff wasn’t competing in meets, he worked as a lifeguard at the Silver Point Beach Club in Atlantic Beach, Long Island, for his swim coach. Madoff began saving his earnings from his job for a future investment.

Madoff Securities

Madoff attended the University of Alabama for one year after graduating from high school in 1956 before transferring to Hofstra University in Long Island. In 1959, he married Ruth, his high school sweetheart, who was a student at nearby Queens College.

Madoff earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Hofstra in 1960 and enrolled at Brooklyn Law School, but he didn’t last long; that year, he and Ruth founded Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC with $5,000 he saved from his lifeguarding job and a side job installing sprinkler systems, as well as an additional $50,000 borrowed from his in-laws.

With the assistance of Madoff’s father-in-law, a retired CPA, the company attracted investors by word of mouth and amassed an impressive client list that included celebrities such as Spielberg, Kevin Bacon, and Kyra Sedgwick. Madoff Investment Securities became well-known for its consistent annual returns of 10% or higher, and by the end of the 1980s, his firm handled more than 5% of the trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Family Business

Madoff Securities’ success was due in part to a willingness to adapt to changing times; the firm was among the first to use computer technology for trading, paving the way for the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ). Madoff later served as chairman of NASDAQ for three one-year terms.

Madoff began hiring more family members to help with the business as it grew. Peter, his younger brother, joined him in the business in 1970 and eventually became the firm’s chief compliance officer. Madoff’s sons, Andrew and Mark, later joined the firm as traders. Shana, Peter’s daughter, became a rules-compliance lawyer for her uncle’s trading division, and Roger, Peter’s son, joined the firm before his father died in 2006.

Arrest and Imprisonment

On December 11, 2008, however, Madoff became famous for a very different reason. The investor had informed his sons the day before that he intended to give out several million dollars in bonuses earlier than planned, and they demanded to know where the money was coming from. Madoff later admitted that a branch of his firm was a sophisticated Ponzi scheme. Madoff’s sons alerted federal authorities, and the following day, Madoff was arrested and charged with securities fraud.

On March 12, 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts, including securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and theft from an employee benefit plan. Prosecutors said $170 billion passed through the principal Madoff account over decades, and that the firm’s statements showed a total of $65 billion in accounts prior to his arrest.

On June 29, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin sentenced Madoff to 150 years in prison, the maximum sentence the 71-year-old defendant could receive. Madoff was transferred to the Butner Federal Correction Complex in North Carolina to serve his sentence, while efforts to recoup investors’ funds were launched through the sale of his assets.

Madoff learned of his two sons’ deaths while imprisoned: Mark committed suicide in December 2010, and Andrew died of cancer in September 2014. Earlier in 2014, it was revealed that Madoff had suffered a heart attack and had stage 4 kidney disease.

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Movies and Later Life

The story of Madoff’s rise and fall was brought to the small screen in February 2016 for Madoff, a two-part miniseries starring veteran actor Richard Dreyfuss as the disgraced investor and Blythe Danner as his longtime wife, Ruth. The Barry Levinson-directed biopic Wizard of Lies, starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, premiered in May of the following year. Diana B. Henriques’ 2011 narrative nonfiction work Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust served as the basis for the adaptation.

The Justice Department announced in April 2018 that another $504 million would be paid to Madoff victims, bringing the total restitution to $1.2 billion. The government hoped to eventually return $4 billion to his clients, though this was only a fraction of the estimated $80 billion the disgraced investor squandered.


On April 14, 2021, Madoff died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. He was 81.

Further Reading

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