On Sunday, the New York Times ran an op-ed column examining how so many could have been duped by Bernie Madoff.
The op-ed dished out harsh words for the thousands who have lost everything in the notorious Ponzi scheme, calling them "co-dependent" "casualties" who should not be considered victims since they sought out Madoff. The author of the op-ed is Daphne Merkin, who the Times referred to at the bottom of the piece as "a contributing writer to The Times Magazine, [who] is working on a book on Jews and money."
Daphne Merkin is much more than just a writer looking into the Madoff debacle. She is very much entwined in the scandal as the sister of Ezra Merkin, the man who made up to $35 million a year funneling money to Madoff.
Merkin did issue a tiny disclaimer in the fifth paragraph of the piece: "(I did not know Mr. Madoff nor did I invest with his firm, but have a sibling who did business with him.)" But doing "business" with Madoff is a far far cry from directing pretty much all of one's fund, Ascot Partners, into the hands of Bernie Madoff. Merkin effectively had Bernie Madoff underwrite his life through the fees he skimmed off the money he gave Madoff. Their relationship caused ruin to many of the foundations and people who trusted Merkin to responsibly invest and watch their money.
According to New York Magazine:
Ezra took Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities places Bernie couldn't have dreamed of going by himself. The list of people and institutions that Ezra Merkin put with Bernie Madoff is a kind of Jewish social register. There was Mort Zuckerman, the media and real-estate mogul, and Ira Rennert, chairman of Fifth Avenue Synagogue and owner of a 68-acre oceanfront Hamptons estate. Over 30 charities invested with Ezra, many of them with a Jewish affiliation. Ramaz was in, as was Yeshiva. Not every investor says they knew that Ezra's fund Ascot was fully invested with Madoff, an assertion that will be at issue in forthcoming lawsuits.
It's unclear whether Merkin considers her brother an equal "casualty" among the rest. She does write, "It's interesting to me that institutional investors were the least likely to overlook the irregularities in his records; they weren't looking to be part of a family, they were merely looking to make money." But it appears that Merkin was looking to be part of a family, he was adding to the family, building it alongside Madoff. Madoff would not have been able to build much of this family without the help of Merkin.