Does Bernie Madoff Win In The End?

There are press reports that Bernie Madoff has cancer and doesn’t have many years left to live.  If this is the case, does Bernie win in the end?  For decades, Bernie has been pilfering his clients for millions, and living far beyond his wildest dreams.

Let’s say that through an honest living, he could have made $50 million over the past 30 years of work.  However, through his devious ways, he makes $450 million more.  Even though he’s in jail now, and spends 5 years before he dies at age 76, doesn’t he come out ahead despite getting the book thrown at him?

Putting it another way, would you be willing to spend 5 years in jail if you knew $450 million was waiting for you at the end of your sentence?  I bet many would say yes!  Parallels of Bernie can be seen in the housing and credit card market.  You buy a mega mansion for no money down, default on your million dollar mortgage after 5 fun filled years, and hand over the keys to the bank!

What do you guys think?  Does Bastard Bernie win in the end?  Or does the government and the people that Bernie swindled get justice?  Anybody who thinks Bernie’s wife or sons were clueless needs to come back to reality.  Is Bernie swindling us again?  Only this time, he may be tricking a billion of us, not just thousands.

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Updated on 2/8/2015.

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. says

    If Bernie Madoff doesn’t live for another 20 years in prison, I think he wins. 20 years is a wash. I can’t imagine if I had $5mil+ with him that went to zero, and the gov’t could only bail individuals out by $500,000. I would be LIVID!

  2. Charlie says

    You raise an interesting topic but I feel differently. If a person finds out they have a fatal disease and have a limited amount of time left, time and being with family becomes way more valuable and important than having loads of money.

    • says

      I agree Charlie. Madoff clearly doesn’t want or need money anymore since he’s prison. My point is that if he dies so soon after prison, does the punish fit the crime? I think not, and Madoff wins.


  3. says

    Depends what Madoff cares about. If he has a revelation “holy crap I’m in prison and I’ve done horrible things” and is in distress because of what he did, then he doesn’t win because it will torture him for the short period of time he has left to live. If he doesn’t really care about all the people that got screwed by him (or doesn’t BEGIN to care before he dies) then he really does win.

    You say does the punishment fit the crime, but isn’t death the ultimate punishment? By that rational a shooter who shoots up a mall or school and kills himself afterward gets a punishment that doesn’t fit his crime. So suicide = win? Or really, death = win? It sounds like that is your rational.

    • says

      Death is a certainty whether one does good or evil. The variable in discussion is the duration of life in prison. If Madoff got caught 20 years ago, society wins. Madoff getting caught 5 years before his death. society does not win.


  4. econobiker says

    However, Madoff gets taxpayer paid prison health care – super poor as it is against the privately paid type he would have been able to afford prior to his arrest. He gets a retirement plan fully paid for by the gov’t.

  5. Mike Hunt says

    What’s a better punishment for him? Kneecap him and then throw him in the slammer? Or have him bunk with Bubba and his friend?

    I have another perspective…. he must have had the knowledge that things could implode hanging over his head for some time. And nobody wants to spend the end of their life in jail knowing they will end up dying there. No matter how old somebody is, they don’t want to die.


  6. says

    I would take the $450 after spending 5 years in the pen, but I wouldn’t take $450 to spend my last 5 years in there!

    As a relative of a young lady and two young kids that were devastated by his crimes, if he spends the rest of his days thinking about how he has destroyed so many lives including his families, however long he rots before he dies is long enough.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t be upset if it turns out to be a short life, I hate that is is now costing us so much!
    .-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..DIYing for Dollars$$$ =-.

    • says

      Lean – That’s a good point. That would suck if after 5 years in prison, and you got the money, you died a year later. Forget that!

      I just don’t know if he really is remorseful. I think he’s scheming to make sure his family stays rich for life! Sam-urai

    • says

      Matt – Your comment makes me hurt! hahaha. I donno, I think a lot of people would really think hard about it even going to a rough prison. But then, I think about the show “Prison Break” and shudder.

      I think I would volunteer 5 years of my life in a white collar prison to earn $450 million. I’d just do a lot of reading and spiritual meditation in the meantime!

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