On, December 10, 2008, Stephanie Madoff Mack was seven months pregnant and busy planning the baby’s nursery when she got a call from her husband, Mark. “It’s my father,” he said. “My father has done something very bad, and is probably going to jail for the rest of his life.” The quiet world she shared with Mark and their two-year-old, Audrey, was about to shatter.
Mark’s father, Bernie Madoff, had just revealed to his sons that his multibillion dollar investment fund—the part of the family business managed solely by Bernie—was nothing but a huge Ponzi scheme, a massive fraud. Mark and his brother, Andy (both of whom worked in a different part of the firm) immediately notified the authorities and turned their father in. Neither son has been charged with a crime, and both maintained they had no knowledge of the fraud (as has their mother, Ruth).
Still, the family was vilified by the public, hounded by the press and subject to civil suits as the scam’s repercussions devastated banks, charities, businesses and ordinary citizens around the world.
Stephanie and Mark struggled to rebuild their lives but in December 2010, two years to the day after his father’s arrest, Mark hanged himself in the couple’s SoHo loft.
In a moving and revealing memoir, The End of Normal: A Wife’s Anguish, A Widow’s New Life, Stephanie finally tells her side of the story. And in this MORE.COM exclusive, she opens up about her relationship with Ruth, her theories about Bernie and her hopes for the future.
Yesterday would have been your seventh wedding anniversary. Did you do anything special?
I missed him so much yesterday. I didn’t really do anything special. It just seemed too painful to sort of celebrate that time that was such a happy time for me. So I hung out with my kids, and my mom treated me to a manicure and pedicure. We just had kind of a lazy day.
Speaking of your kids, you were especially eloquent in the book when you wrote about helping them deal with the loss of their father. Did you learn anything about grieving by watching how they dealt with it?
Yeah, I did. To watch them be excited to talk about their dad or draw a picture for their dad. Or go to the windows in the apartment and dance around and say, “Daddy, look at me.” It breaks my heart but I know it’s healing them.
You led a pretty quiet, family-oriented life before all this happened. What made you decide to write a book?
I wanted to give my husband a voice that he was never allowed to have. And I wanted to do it for my children, so that one day they’ll have something to read that’s the truth about their father and not just the tabloid version of the Mark Madoff story.
In the book you say about your mother-in-law, “Ruth could take you down like sniper.” Have you heard from her since the book came out?
Did you expect to?
I was forthcoming with her about my book. And I know she’s participating in a book that’s coming out and she was not forthcoming with me.
How do you know she’s participating in another book?
I’ve heard that she participated in an upcoming book [Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family, due out October 31].