Madoff’s Other Victim: Culture


Arts institutions could be the next victims of Bernard Madoff's malpractice. He and his clients constitute a network of board members from the city's top cultural organizations, two in particular: Madoff himself sits on the board of New York City Center and is a major donor to the institution. His fellow board member is Judy Wilpon, a major donor at City Center and wife of Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon, who just lost hundreds of millions of dollars through Madoff. The Wilpons are tight with Sanford and Joan Weill (again, major City Center donors), and Sanford is the chairman of Carnegie Hall. The two families are so tight, in fact, that in 2005 they helped broker a deal to create an artistic partnership, with a proposed joint board, between City Center and Carnegie Hall (the deal fell through in 2007). Under the leadership of Weill at Carnegie is board member J. Ezra Merkin, whose firm not only lost $1.8 billion of its clients' money, but who is now also under investigation for his possible complicity in Madoff's scheme.

A City Center spokesperson denied that the institution had invested any money with Madoff and said the security of his position within the organization was "a matter for the board," the next meeting of which is in February. But with the management rosters of these institutions now spotted with gaping financial holes, Madoff's massive mismanagement continues its degenerative effect.