Ruth Madoff: Silent Beneficiary or Unwitting Victim in Husband's Ponzi Scheme?

Ruth Madoff's net worth changed after her husband's crimes were uncovered. She obviously benefitted some from the Ponzi scheme. What's her net worth?

Kathryn Underwood - Author

May 16 2023, Updated 3:02 p.m. ET

Ruth Madoff during a 2011 interview on '60 Minutes.'
Source: 60 Minutes YouTube

Ruth Madoff, the widow of Bernie Madoff, previously worked for her husband's company. However, she wasn't convicted of any wrongdoing in his massive Ponzi scheme. She has stayed out of the public eye since her husband's arrest, subsequent imprisonment, and death. How much is Ruth Madoff's net worth?

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Also a director of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, Ruth worked in her husband's business, but claimed to have no knowledge of his fraudulent activities. He was arrested and convicted of fraud, money laundering, and related crimes and received a 150-year prison sentence.

Ruth Madoff

Businessperson; Widow of Bernie Madoff

Net worth: $2 million (unconfirmed)

Ruth Madoff is the widow of convicted fraudster Bernard Madoff, who scammed thousands of high-profile investors with the largest Ponzi scheme ever uncovered in history. He used new investor funds to pay out returns to existing investors, but in 2008 he wasn't able to cover all redemption requests from the fund. Billions of dollars were lost. Ruth Madoff reportedly wasn't aware of or involved in her husband's crimes. She has lived in seclusion since his 2009 conviction.

Birthdate: May 18, 1941

Birthplace: New York City, N.Y.

Education: Queens College (undergraduate) and New York University (M.S.)

Spouse: Bernard Madoff (died 2021)

Children: 2 (both deceased)

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What happened to Ruth Madoff?

Ruth, despite having "run the books" for the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities firm, didn't appear to have any role in the huge cover-up by Madoff. Her husband was the so-called "Ponzi king" for having orchestrated the multibillion-dollar fraud that victimized thousands, decimating their retirement and life savings.

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Bernie and Ruth Madoff were married on Nov. 28, 1959. The couple raised two sons. Mark Madoff was born in 1964 and died in 2010 by suicide, two years to the date after his father's arrest. Andrew Madoff, born in 1996, died in 2014 of cancer.

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Ruth was never charged with any crime in connection to the Ponzi scheme and maintained that she had nothing to do with it. However, she remained married to Madoff throughout his incarceration until his death on April 14, 2021.

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Madoff, though he didn't incriminate his wife, did suggest that the "Big Four" investors including Jeffry Picower must have suspected fraudulent activity due to the unrealistic returns their investments were supposedly earning.

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Bernie Madoff preparing to face court in January 2009.
Source: Getty Images

Bernie Madoff preparing to face court in January 2009.

Where is Ruth Madoff now?

As the wife of the disgraced and hated Madoff, members of the public, especially his victims, were angry at Ruth as well. One victim said in court to Madoff, "Your wife, rightfully so, has been vilified and shunned by her friends in the community." Ruth has mostly avoided the public eye and rarely gives interviews.

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How much money did Ruth Madoff return?

In 2009, not long before Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison, the Madoffs made an agreement with prosecutors to let federal marshals sell their assets. Ruth was allowed to keep $2.5 million.

Ruth Madoff pushing a cart out of a store.
Source: YouTube

Ruth Madoff leaving what appears to be a grocery store.

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The apartment Ruth shared with her husband was seized, along with many luxury possessions that were auctioned off to provide restitution to those who had lost money in the investment scheme. Some of the auctioned items included Rolex watches, sculptures, a platinum diamond-and-emerald bracelet, diamond earrings, and 18-karat-gold cuff links.

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In 2019, Ruth agreed to pay $594,000 and surrender her remaining assets when she dies to settle claims by the court-appointed trustee liquidating her husband’s firm. This is $250,000 in cash and $344,000 held in trusts for two grandchildren. Trustee Irving Picard agreed with Ruth that her settlement isn't evidence she admitted to “participating in or knowing of Bernard Madoff’s fraud.”

Ruth is also required to report any expenditures over $100 to Picard to ensure no other financial accounts are hidden. Since the fraud was exposed, she has lived with a sister and brother-in-law, with her son Andrew before his death in 2014, and with her late son Mark's widow Susan Elkin.

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