Madoff's Wife Speaks

Nov 1 2011 | 1:01pm ET

The wife of arch-fraudster Bernard Madoff has stopped speaking to him, but sees no point in divorcing her husband of 52 years.

Ruth Madoff stuck by her husband until about a year ago, alienating friends and her two sons, and despite her belief that he had been unfaithful to her, she tells The New York Times in an interview to promote a new authorized family biography. "I come from a generation where marriage meant staying put, for better or for worse," she said. "This was agonizing, but I couldn't abandon the man with whom I spent essentially my entire life."

Her sons, Mark and Andrew, begged her to walk away from their father in the aftermath of his arrest on charges of running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme in 2008. But it wasn't until Mark killed himself on the second anniversary of Madoff's arrest that Ruth turned away from her husband.

She told Madoff, "you're going to have to leave me alone and not call." Madoff himself admitted that Ruth had "asked me to let her go," but left out the part about his refusal. His wife told the Times she had to change her phone number to get her husband to stop calling.

Ruth Madoff has not spoken to the press in the years since her husband's arrest. But she said she decided to open up at the urging of her son, Andrew, the driving force behind Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family, which was published yesterday, despite her lawyers' opposition.

"I wanted to do what he wanted me to do," she explained. "I hadn't done it in Mark's case, and I will regret that to my dying day."

For his part, Andrew Madoff admitted that he "hardened" himself towards his mother after she stuck by his father. He said he was particularly hurt when she asked him to co-sign for his father's bail.

"I was devastated," he said. "There was no chance that I was going to sign, and I couldn't believe that she would ask me to."

For her part, Ruth Madoff said she's trying to piece together some sort of life. Rejected by several Manhattan landlords, she now lives in a borrowed townhouse in Florida, "afraid to spend a penny" due to pending lawsuits against her.

"It's so sad," she told the Times. "Everything that I think about the victims—it's hard to face, because there's nothing I can do about any of it."

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