Bernie Madoff’s niece Shana is “reserved,” according to the Wall Street Journal. What the Journal fails to mention is that Ms. Madoff was less reserved when it came to exhibiting her expensive taste for high fashion.
Back in 2004, the then 33-year-old Madoff, who worked as the rules-compliance attorney at her uncle’s firm, allowed New York magazine to photograph her in her Park Avenue apartment for its “Fall Fashion” section on brand loyalty. The section, entitled, “Extreme Brand Loyalty,” profiled three rich New York fashionistas — including Shana Madoff — and their love of a particular designer. The designers were Chanel, Balenciaga, and Narciso Rodriguez; the title bar of the article refers to Madoff and the other subjects as the designers’ “Best Customers.”
Each of the women was paired with a designer for her own single page spread. Like Michele Obama, Shana Madoff loves Cuban-American designer Narciso Rodriguez, known for his classic and elegant designs.
Here’s New York magazine talking about Shana:
Her salespeople at Jeffrey messenger a shipment of Rodriguez’s clothes and shoes to her at the beginning of each season and simply charge her for what she doesn’t return. “If I see something I like, I call around,” explains Madoff, a securities lawyer. “I just don’t have time to shop. I get a little bit aggravated when I go into a store because I could be doing so many other things that are so much more productive. And the salespeople are around the clothes all day. They know them much better than I do.”
She can be quite determined about getting certain items. Last summer, while sitting on Georgica Beach, she was thumbing through Harper’s Bazaar when she stumbled across a tweed Prada bag she knew would go perfectly with her Rodriguez basics. She left her friends and walked down the beach saying she had “to make an important phone call.” She ordered the bag on her cell phone. When it arrived two days later, she came clean to her boyfriend. “That was my important phone call!”
Madoff started working at her Uncle Bernie’s firm when she was only 26, soon after graduating from Fordham Law School. From the beginning, she stood out as a woman in a boy’s club. She loved the business, and, a source in the Wall Street Journal described her as competent and sharp, “not in that job because of her father or uncle.”
The niece has claimed she didn’t know about her uncle’s Ponzi scheme until the morning of the arrest. She too is being investigated by the SEC, for her relationship with her husband Eric Swanson, who was at one time an SEC compliance attorney (She was previously married to the manager of a men’s clothing store).
Like the rest of her family, Shana traveled in philanthropic circles. She was honored recently as a Girl Scouts of America woman of distinction. A Google search of Ms. Madoff’s name reveals a number of photos of her attending charity balls, such as this one for the Whitney Museum (Madoff is the woman in the middle). A colleague told the Wall Street Journal, “I know nothing about the underlying issues… but she is a mensch, a sweetheart.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 12, 2009