5 Famous Victims of the Bernie Madoff Scandal

Famous People Who Lost Money With Bernie Madoff

  • Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon
  • Elie Wiesel
  • Steven Spielberg
  • John Malkovitch
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg

Though there were many famous victims of the Bernie Madoff scandal, many other ordinary people lost their life savings in his Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme involves paying out investors with funds from new investors. It is unsustainable and eventually collapses. This was one of the largest ever. Madoff was arrested in late 2008 after his sons notified federal authorities about his stock and securities fraud, and in 2009, he was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

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1. Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon

Actors Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon are generally considered to be a low-key, well-liked Hollywood couple, and they were also among the first famous victims that emerged in the Bernie Madoff scandal. Sedgwick’s best-known role is starring as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on “The Closer,” a drama airing on TNT. Bacon rose to fame in film in the 1980s movie “Footloose” and has had starring roles in many films since then. The two lost a great deal of money, but spoke philosophically about it, pointing out that some people had lost everything.

2. Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel was one of the more tragic celebrity victims of the Bernie Madoff scandal. Writer, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wiesel and his wife lost $12 million, their entire life savings. In addition, according to The Telegraph, his nonprofit, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, had most of its assets with Madoff and lost $15.2 million. Wiesel, who was introduced to Madoff by a friend, was cautious with the investment, meeting with other experts before agreeing to invest with him.

3. Steven Spielberg

Perhaps the biggest household name of all among the famous victims of the Bernie Madoff scandal, movie mogul Steven Spielberg had made significant investments with Madoff on behalf of his charity, the Wunderkinder Foundation. Although the total amount he lost was never disclosed, the charity’s assets were reported as totaling $12.6 million in 2006, and reportedly, over half of its income from interest and dividends were from Madoff investments.

4. John Malkovitch

Actor John Malkovitch starred in a film named for him, “Being John Malkovitch,” and has worked in film and television for decades, earning two Academy Award nominations along the way. He lost $2 million to Madoff but also was philosophical about it, counting the experience as a valuable life lesson.

5. Jeffrey Katzenberg

Jeffrey Katzenberg has produced some of the biggest films of the last few decades, including such Disney hits as “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin,” and successes for Dreamworks Studios that included “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda.” Katzenberg did not disclose how much he lost personally or how much his charity, the Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg Foundation, lost. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, it was at least $20 million. Neither Katzenberg nor Spielberg knew Madoff personally. They had the same business manager who made the investments.

The fallout from the Madoff scandal was enormous, with a number of charities affected and several victims committing suicide. Eventually, most investors got a portion of their money back, but the process took years. The famous victims of the Bernie Madoff scandal are just a small number of the thousands of people who were not wealthy but were also victimized and who lost their life savings.