It’s no secret that New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and his son Jeff have had ‘Madoff’ problems since the scandal broke a year and a half ago. Longtime friends and associates of disgraced financier Bernie Madoff, the Wilpons had been investing with Madoff’s firm for many years.
When news of the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Bernie Madoff first broke, one of the first names mentioned as being investors were the Wilpons. Consequently Met fans (of which I am a card-carrying member) heard that one of the reasons the Mets did not bid on many free agents (Cliff Lee for instance), was that they had a major ‘Madoff problem’. That problem apparently was that the Wilpon’s were ‘winners’ in investing with Bernie Madoff’s firm.
Just this weekend http://nyti.ms/f7IxjW news came out that the Wilpon’s were considering selling a portion of their interest in the New York Mets due to ‘uncertainties’ as Fred Wilpon put it. As the NY Times reported “The lawsuit against the owners of the Mets alleges that as longtime and successful investors with Madoff, they knew or should have known that he was operating a fraud, according to two lawyers involved in the case.”
Pardon me for saying so but – I don’t get it. The insinuation here is that the Wilpons being savvy investors, and smart, and rich should have realized that their rate of return on the investments with Madoff was inconsistent with general market performance. Would anybody in a similar position that invests question why their winners were doing so well? What the lawyers are saying is that if your investments outperform the market you should go back to your adviser, (if you use one) and question his/her methods to be sure they are not doing anything illicit. Exactly what is the threshold then? 15% over the general market performance? 20%? And what happens when your investment loses value? The little I know about investing tells me that if I am given a recommendation by a broker/advisor and it really tanks, I have no ‘right’ to go back and check on the advisors methods. And yet in the case of the Madoff scandal that’s exactly what is happening.
Do not mistake my puzzlement at chasing the Wilpons to recoup money, (or any other investor that somehow came out on the positive side of the Madoff scheme) for any lack of compassion for the many people who had their life’s savings destroyed by low-life Bernie Madoff and his accomplices. The people that were responsible for the fraud should be brought to justice and made to pay for their crimes. I am just questioning this path of taking down (one by one apparently), successful Madoff investors under the auspice of ‘they should have known’ is event legal if not just plain wrong.
It’s not a whole lot of fun being a Met fan these days. The Phillies are locked and loaded for bear with their offseason acquisitions. The Yankees will again be a formidable team. Another long summer is in the offing for we Met fans. Whether the Wilpons sell part or all of their interest in the team is immaterial to the notion that somehow they should have ‘known’ about Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
If you have any good investments I suggest checking them out to make sure that if they are doing too well that performance is not due to nefarious circumstances. Good luck. For me I’ve got to find a winning investment that could perform that well first.