Barbara Picower's Net Worth: Did Madoff's Ponzi Scheme Pad Her Pockets?

Jeffry and Barbara Picower, friends and investors with Bernie Madoff, were the largest beneficiaries of his Ponzi scheme. What is Barbara's net worth?

Danielle Letenyei - Author

May 16 2023, Updated 11:49 a.m. ET

Darren Walker and Barbara Picower attend America Divided EPIX & Ford Foundation Event.
Source: Getty Images

A four-part Netflix series, Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street, chronicles the rise and fall of the late Bernie Madoff, who went to jail in 2008 for running an illegal Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of billions.

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Under the scheme, Madoff never invested his clients’ money like he was supposed to. Instead, he used the money given to him by new investors for payouts to existing investors. Madoff wasn’t the only who that benefited from the scam. Jeffry and Barbara Picower, friends and investors with Madoff, are said to be the largest beneficiaries of the Ponzi scheme.

So, how much did Barbara Picower collect from Madoff's scheme?

Barbara Picower

President and chair of JPB Foundation

Net worth: $200 million (estimated)

Barbara Picower's net worth lies somewhere in the millions, possibly billions. Although she repaid $7.2 billion of the money she and her late husband received as "returns" on their investments, Jeffry left her $200 million at the time of his death. There's also the possibility that she held on to some of the money that was collected from the Madoff scandal.

Birthdate: 1942

Spouse: Jeffry Picower (died in October 2009)

Kids: 1

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Bernard Madoff (left) leaves Manhattan Federal court.
Source: Getty Images

Barbara Picower’s net worth is still in the millions.

After Madoff's scheme finally came to light, we learned that the Picowers reportedly withdrew $5.1 billion more than they invested. Jeffry died in 2009, and a year later, Barbara agreed to pay back $7.2 billion of the money they made in the scam.

Barbara may have repaid billions to Madoff victims, but that doesn’t mean she has been left without money. Barbara’s net worth is still in the millions, if not billions. After Jeffry died, he left Barbara $200 million, Reuters reported in 2009.

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She also may have had some money left over from the billions she and her husband made with Madoff after she paid the $7.2 billion settlement. Forbes reported in 2014 that tax records for the JPB Foundation, which Barbara founded in 2011, showed that $1.2 billion in contributions came from the Jeffry Picower estate.

Barbara Picower runs one of the largest foundations in the U.S.

Barbara is the President and Board Chair of the JPB Foundation. The charitable organization aims to empower people living in poverty, enrich and sustain the environment, and enable pioneering medical research.

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According to InfluenceWatch, in 2020, the JPB Foundation held over $3 billion in assets. It's one of the largest grant-making foundations in the country.

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Barbara had previously been in charge of The Picower Foundation, which she and her husband founded in 1989. Madoff, a longtime friend of the Picowers, managed their foundation’s assets. The Picower Foundation was forced to close in 2009 after the Madoff scandal broke out.

At first, the Picowers were considered among the many victims swindled in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. But, then a lawsuit filed on behalf of Madoff victims asserted that Jeffry “knew or should have known” about the fraud, The New York Times reported in 2009.

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Barbara Picower was present when her husband drowned.

In 2009, Jeffry was found dead in the swimming pool at his $33 million mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. Barbara was reading by the pool when her husband drowned, Forbes reported. The medical examiner determined Jeffry’s death was an accidental drowning that happened after he suffered a heart attack. He reportedly had Parkinson’s disease and heart problems.

At the time of his death, Jeffry was one of the wealthiest men in America, with a net worth of as much as $7 billion, Forbes reports.

In addition to their home in Palm Beach, it's believed Barbara also owns property in Manhattan.

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