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Bernie and Ruth, his wife, had a suite upstairs.”It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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She showed me pictures and told me stories of dinners, family gatherings, charity balls, and Madoff company picnics, held at Madoff’s home in Montauk, on Long Island, where the investment shaman would book every hotel room in the vicinity for his employees and their families. Levy in the last years of his life …” She showed me a picture of Madoff on the yacht, bare-chested and wet from a dip in the sea, kissing the white-haired Levy on the cheek.

She recalled trips on yachts and outings in New York and evenings in the Madoffs’ house in Palm Beach—12 years of Norman and Carmen and Ruth and Bernie. “Norman said, innumerable times, ‘He is my son,’” she told me, meaning that Levy considered Madoff his surrogate son, a member of his family.‘Bernie was quiet, not a storyteller, not a conversationalist,” said Carmen. He was just Bernie, pleasant and polite.” He always deferred to Levy, who was 26 years his senior, and whom he called “my mentor of 40 years.” I asked if Madoff was ever flirtatious. ,” Carmen exclaimed, adding that he rarely if ever touched alcohol.

“Long before he died, he had given both of his children their own money, and each had created a charitable foundation. agents that his investment fund, into which approximately 13,500 individual investors and charities had put their money, was “one big lie.” (Both of Levy’s children, Jeanne Levy-Church and Francis Levy, declined to comment.)After Levy’s death, Carmen said, she went out to dinner several times with the Madoffs. I thought to myself, If a son could loot the fortune of his father, what would he do to a stranger? A few weeks later, on December 11, I was trying my luck again.

All three foundations closed after December 11,” she said—the day Madoff admitted to F. But she got the news of Bernie’s arrest by telephone. “Playing the Spread”In truth, I had been trying for months to invest money with Madoff. My wife and I were having dinner in another Aspen restaurant with another friend, who, thanks to investing with Madoff for 20 years, had recently retired to a life of golf and skiing.

“Before Norman passed away, there was the Betty and Norman F. “I said, ‘This is Carmen Dell’Orefice.’”“We just found out less than 45 minutes ago,” the secretary said.“Then it’s so? So many people have been hurt, I feel badly about trying to say anything good. on December 11, Carmen got a call from Norman Levy’s daughter, Jeanne Levy-Church, who contributed millions to good causes around the world through her JEHT Foundation. Bernie was closed; Bernie had a multi-million-dollar minimum; Bernie didn’t need my money.