Bernie Madoff, the notorious architect of the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history, died of plaque buildup in his arteries and kidney failure, according to the death certificate obtained by TMZ News.
Madoff’s immediate cause of death was reportedly listed as hypertension, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease. Madoff had been battling high blood pressure for a decade and his kidneys had been failing for eight years. The disgraced financier died on April 14 at age 82 while serving a 150-year prison sentence.
He was cremated in North Carolina, where he’d been serving jail time.
Madoff pled guilty in 2009 to running a vast Ponzi scheme that prosecutors said swindled thousands, many of them elderly and out of their life savings. The scheme began in the early 1970s, and by the time Madoff was arrested in December 2008, had defrauded as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries out of up to $65 billion.
Madoff’s attornies had requested he be released amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying he suffered from end-stage renal disease. That request was denied.
"You know there hasn’t been a day in prison that I haven’t felt the guilt for the pain I caused on the victims and for my family," he told The Washington Post in 2020 when his attorney asked for his compassionate release. He said his dying wish was to reconcile with his grandchildren and explain his actions.
His victims included the famous – film director Steven Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Weisel – as well as ordinary investors.
Madoff said he started the fraud, in which he appeared to deliver steady returns to clients, but was actually using money from new investors to pay off existing shareholders, in the 1990s because he felt "compelled" to give investors solid returns despite the recession and weak stock market. Prosecutors contend he started defrauding investors much earlier.
"When I began the Ponzi scheme, I believed it would end shortly, and I would be able to extricate myself and my clients," Madoff told the judge at his plea hearing. "However, this proved difficult, and ultimately impossible, and as the years went by, I realized that my arrest and this day would inevitably come."
A judge also issued a $171 billion forfeiture order on Madoff's assets. Under the arrangement, the government also obtained his wife's interest in all property, including $80 million that she claimed belonged to her, leaving Ruth Maddoff with $2.5 million in assets.
Prior to his downfall, Madoff was viewed as a self-made and respected figure among financial professionals as the head of the seemingly successful Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities firm. He also served as the chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market in 1990, 1991 and 1993.
The fall of Madoff took a toll on his family.
The oldest of his two sons, Mark Madoff, died by suicide on the second anniversary of his father's arrest in 2010. His other son, Andrew, died from cancer at age 48 in 2014.
Mark Madoff's suicide prompted his mother, Ruth Madoff, to cut off all communications with her husband.