“Hello, Madoff” What the Secretary Saw


The June issue of Vanity Fair continues its coverage of Bernie Madoff. This issue centers around Eleanor Squillari, who spent two decades as Madoff’ private secretary.

The article, entitled “Hello, Madoff!,” is accompanied by more than a dozen intimate photos of Madoff and his family from as far back as the 1970s.

According to Eleanor Squillari, Bernie Madoff was a sexist, egomaniacal, short-tempered control freak—yet everybody loved him.

At first, I was not interested in the story. It looked a little sordid for me. Then I saw this quote:

Squillari recalls an unusually prescient conversation she had with Madoff years earlier, after a client’s secretary had been arrested for embezzlement. “You know, [he] has to take some responsibility for this,” Madoff told Squillari. “He should have been keeping an eye on his personal finances. That’s why I’ve always had Ruth watching the books. Nothing gets by Ruth.” Squillari says she was surprised when he added: “Well, you know what happens is, it starts out with you taking a little bit, maybe a few hundred, a few thousand. You get comfortable with that, and before you know it, it snowballs into something big.”

Perhaps the story will give us some insight into what makes a person go bad.

For a preview, there is a video of Vanity Fair’s Mark Seal interviewing Eleanor Squillari: Bernie Madoff’s Secretary Spills His Secrets.

Part I of Vanity Fair’s coverage of Madoff was in the April issue: Madoff’s World.