Even behind bars, Bernie Madoff is still the master of monopolizing people’s money. The business he ran from prison, however, is vastly more legit than the multibillion-dollar con that landed him a 150-year sentence.
According to Steve Fishman, the host of Ponzi Supernova, a new Audible audio series focused on the disgraced former money manager, Madoff found much success steering his talents to the prison supply of Swiss Miss.
“At one point, he cornered the hot chocolate market,” Fishman told MarketWatch. “He bought up every package of Swiss Miss from the commissary and sold it for a profit in the prison yard. … He made it so that, if you wanted any, you had to go through Bernie.”
It seems Madoff’s Swiss Miss-hoarding hasn’t hurt his standing with the other inmates of Butner Prison, the North Carolina correction facility famed for its cushy digs.
“He’s a star in prison. He stole more money than anyone in history, and to other thieves, this makes him a hero,” said Fishman, a journalist who spoke with Madoff extensively for pieces like this one in New York Magazine. He told MarketWatch that Madoff’s fellow yardbirds routinely consult the infamous inmate on stock purchases and other financial advice.
This special status isn’t new. In 2011, his daughter-in-law Stephanie Madoff Mack revealed that she had sent Madoff a bitter letter explaining all the things he was missing out on. He responded, she said, by explaining he was “quite the celebrity,” and that other inmates treated him like a Mafia don, calling him “Uncle Bernie” or “Mr. Madoff.”
“I can’t walk anywhere without someone shouting their greetings and encouragement, to keep my spirit up,” Madoff reportedly wrote to her. “It’s really quite sweet, how concerned everyone is about my well being.”
Madoff Mack came forward about the letters the year after her husband, Bernie Madoff’s eldest son, committed suicide.