Where’s the missing Madoff money?
Nobody knows—except Madoff himself, and whomever his accomplices (if he had any) might be.
But a couple of things are clear now: Madoff kept detailed records of the money as it came in from his clients. But, astoundingly, he never invested a single penny of it, even as far back as 1993.
This blows the theory that Madoff was an honest guy gone bad in the last couple of years as the market began to tank. It makes it more likely that he is some sort of economic sociopath.
What was his motivation, other than to make a lot of money? Didn’t he have enough to begin with?
My guess—and it’s a guess only—is that he liked the game aspects of it. He got off on fooling people and looking down on them for trusting him. If this is the case, Madoff has a lot in common with spies such as Robert Hanssen, whose motives seemed more psychological than ideological or even monetary.
Feeling superior to others was particularly important to Hanssen, who, like Madoff, led a double life. To neighbors and acquaintances, he appeared sober and religious, an upright family man. His secret life was abominable, a series of betrayals that caused the executions of several Soviet citizens spying for our side, and included his arranging for a friend to regularly view his sexual relations with his wife, unbeknownst to her.
Hanssen, like Madoff, wasn’t caught for a very long time, despite the fact that the FBI was tipped off over and over that he might be a mole. The list of missed opportunities and neglected evidence in the Hanssen case would be funny if it weren’t a tragic outrage.
The same is true of Madoff. These guys were very, very good at what they did—which is the old con game of earning trust while simultaneously betraying it utterly and completely.