3/11/16

AT HOME WITH THE MADOFF'S (OR WITHOUT THEM AS THE CASE MAY BE)



I have trouble letting a movie go once I've finished it. All that work, all that effort, all that stress and all that satisfaction and suddenly--poof!--it's yesterday's news. I get it. Our culture is so jammed with information, our DVR's so overloaded, the new 'binge-watching' fad so overwhelming (and, I think, a little unhealthy...how about reading a little or taking a walk during the weekend?) that we don't have time to linger over a movie that aired a distant five weeks ago.

So I'm going to let go--though I'm not going quietly. Madoff is still on my mind and above I've posted a very nice little tour of Bernie and Ruth's Manhattan digs which were then for sale for 15 million dollars. Located on Lexington Avenue and 64th street, the apartment is pleasant and classical in design and by no means a megalopolis money-strutting overload property. The building was built in 1927 and the Madoff's owned the penthouse. You entered on the top floor which was entirely encircled by the terrace. The floorpan explains things best--click here for drawings of both levels.The rooms are classical in size and style and by no means overbearing. Even the view is cozy rather than dynamic, mostly focusing on the east side of Manhattan, missing the dramatic southern skyline. Though the above video is of the apartment when it was empty, you can see the Madoff's taste in furniture by clicking here.

When we set out to find a location for the Madoff apartment we began by trying to emulate the low-key classical nature of the place. Those particular apartment buildings wouldn't let us in of course--the last thing upper east side co-ops need is some spare change movie money which will barely pay for the damage we would inflict. We tried brownstones and saw quite a few with the same feel but ultimately we decided it was more important that it was a penthouse then it was that the architecture match exactly. We settled on a lovely apartment on Central Park South with a vaguely neuveou-classical feel ('new-for-old' as the realtors now call it) and  a terrace with a much more impressive view than the Madoff's. Our reasoning was that sometimes in a movie it's best to stretch reality in order to make a point, and our point was that the Madoff's lived well in the middle of Manhattan. The actual apartment might make that point to other city-dwellers but this needed to reach the rest of America, the un-urban ABC viewers who would make up the bulk of our audience.

The Madoff's multiple residences were all a little more modest than the media would have wished. The Hamptons house was purchased before the big money arrived (or didn't really as the case may be) and was held onto for sentimental reasons. There was also a place in Florida that didn't exactly scream "We're Jews With Money!" in the way that Madoff-haters probably wished it had. Indeed this was the M.O. of Bernie and Ruth--they wanted to blend in, not appear to be gaudy outsiders and were appropriately wary of inviting any anti-semitism due to their garishness. 'Goy-Chic' was the chosen style. There was also a condo in the South of France but the very fact that it was a condo immediately reduces it to zero interest in my book. Nonetheless we'll explore the Madoff's ex-real estate portfolio over the next few days. And then perhaps I'll be ready to move on...

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