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Fallout From Madoff Scandal Spreads (Part 2)

December 20, 2008

Greed_trust_2Earlier this week we noted that at least three private foundations had been caught up in the scam run by New York money manager Bernie Madoff -- described in today's NYT as "a fraud that lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than any similar scheme in history" -- and, as a result, had -- or soon would -- close their doors.

Add another one to the list.

The Times and wire services are reporting that the Palm Beach-based Picower Foundation, a family philanthropy that has given some $268 million to nonprofits and educational institutions, has announced that it would halt its grantmaking "effective immediately" and would "close its doors in the coming months." Created by Barbara Picower and her husband, investor Jeffry Picower, in 1989, the foundation had assets valued at nearly $1 billion as of 2007, making it, at this point, one of the largest philanthropies to be caught up in the scandal. In a statement released to the press, Barbara Picower, the foundation's president, said: "This act of fraud has had a devastating impact on tens of thousands of lives as well as numerous philanthropic foundations and nonprofit organizations. We deeply regret that in such a harsh economic climate, we will be unable to support the profoundly important programs and organizations that have helped us further the Foundation's mission."

Meanwhile, the New York Post is reporting that the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, a small public charity created by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, was "completely wiped out" by Madoff. The staff at the foundation has released the following statement:

We are deeply saddened and distressed that we, along with many others, have been the victims of what may be one of the largest investment frauds in history. We are writing to inform you that the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity had $15.2 million under management with Bernard Madoff Investment Securities. This represented substantially all of the Foundation's assets.

The values we stand for are more needed than ever. We want to assure you that the Foundation remains committed to carrying on the lifelong work of our founder, Elie Wiesel. We shall not be deterred from our mission to combat indifference, intolerance, and injustice around the world.

At this difficult time, the Foundation wishes to express its profound gratitude for all your support.

Sad. So sad.

-- Mitch Nauffts

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