December 8, 2023

Talk: Stephanie Madoff Mack Keeps Busy

When I read about the December 2010 suicide of your husband, I remember being disturbed by the image of him hanging himself with the family dog’s leash. Does this still haunt you?

It haunts me every time I have to walk the dog and every night when I try and go to bed. What haunts me most is that he tried it with a vacuum-cleaner cord first, and it didn’t work, and he tried again. The determination of it is gruesome.

He killed himself while you and your daughter were at Disney World, but your son, Nicholas, was sleeping in the next room. Could Nicholas have discovered his father like that?

Nicholas was 22 months at the time and was never one to climb out of his crib. Initially, I was furious that he put my son in harm’s way. Mark Madoff would have thrown himself in front of a train to save his children. He just snapped that night.

How do you suppose Bernie Madoff was able to enjoy his yachts, jet and homes, understanding that his Ponzi scheme was destined to unravel?

In hindsight, he didn’t really seem like he enjoyed these things, but I just thought that was part of his quietness. I never saw him have a real good laugh, like a belly laugh.

In the epilogue, you note that, as you were writing, it had only been six months since Mark’s death. How on earth did you mourn your husband, care for two young children and get a book out that quickly?

I’ve learned that I am something called an instrumental griever. I have to be busy doing something. I had to be busy with this project, the kids, and I was even taking a class in graduate school.

You are so hard on Ruth Madoff’s decision to continue speaking with Bernie despite Mark’s wishes. You appear to feel she’s complicit in his death.

I don’t blame Ruth for Mark’s death. I think that Ruth Madoff makes disastrous choices, and my husband felt very hurt and abandoned by her.

But Ruth has known Bernie since she was 13. Some loyalty would be understandable, no?

I don’t understand. What I do understand is this: When my husband hanged himself while my son slept, all I wanted to do was get to my son.

You go to great lengths to proclaim both Madoff sons’ ignorance of their father’s crimes. But I wondered if you agreed with the Madoff victim who said that even if the brothers didn’t know, “they led lives that weren’t theirs to lead.”

My husband built a totally separate business that ran on a completely separate floor. He worked very hard and yes, it was earned legitimately.

The latest trustee complaint says Mark withdrew $18 million from a Madoff fund in which he invested $381,000. He must have known he was taking out more than he put in.

I don’t feel comfortable discussing the legalities of this case without an attorney right now.

You write that Mark’s whole life was his children — two of which are from a previous marriage — and how you hope all four kids will grow up together. Then you describe his ex-wife Susan Elkin as a borderline stalker and “a controlling bitch.” Won’t that make relations difficult?

I really do hope that the siblings can have a relationship going forward. That’s something that Mark would want. But I wanted to finally say how I felt. I was treated very poorly by their mom.

In the book “Truth and Consequences,” which is being promoted by Ruth and Andrew Madoff, Elkin says Mark told her you were going to leave him. The book depicts Mark telling Andrew that a previous suicide attempt largely resulted from this fear. You’ve denied this, but why would two people collude on an elaborate lie?

None of it is true. I told Mark over and over again that I was not going to leave him. I was never going to leave my husband. Never.


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