Fred Wilpon, Bernie Madoff, and the New York Mets
Today’s guest submission is from Eric Hornbeck.
With news this morning that the trustee trying to recovery money for victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme has agreed to settle his lawsuit against Fred Wilpon, the owner of the New York Mets, for a paltry $162 million, it’s worth noting that the trustee originally sought $1 billion from Wilpon, who he said knew that Madoff’s returns had to be fake. Writing in The New Yorker last May, Jeffrey Toobin looked at what the case meant for the iconic Mets owner and New York real estate magnate.
Fred Wilpon is rich, but he is not Michael Bloomberg. He cannot simply write a check of that size to make the case go away. The mere filing of Picard’s lawsuit forced Wilpon into a painful financial reckoning. Most important, the lawsuit compelled him to put a big piece of his beloved Mets up for sale. For decades, Wilpon has lived in the fraught and contentious worlds of New York real estate and professional sports and has had an enviable reputation: thoughtful, decent, philanthropic, even kind. But now, in the later innings of his life, he must rise to an unseemly challenge: to salvage his reputation and his fortune, Wilpon must prove that he was a dupe rather than a crook.