Short answer? Well, no one really knows.
In the wake of Bernie Madoff's death this week at the age of 82, curiosity about the Ponzi scheme mastermind and the family he left behind has been renewed.
As most of us remember, Madoff defrauded investors out of billions of dollars for decades. When his secret went public in 2008, it marked the biggest scandal in Wall Street history. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009, but he wasn't the only one who suffered the consequences of his actions.
Ruth, who wed Bernie at the age of 18 and went on record to say she had no knowledge of his business dealings, had her lavish life pulled out from under her. Hundreds of millions of dollars in assets were seized, including multiple homes, a yacht, and the couple's Upper East Side penthouse, and she was left with around $2 million. Her remaining fortune, however, has been closely monitored by lawyer Irving Picard, who has been responsible for liquidating and recovering funds from Madoff's firm. In 2019, Ruth agreed to surrender her remaining assets when she dies, to settle claims against her husband and his losses.
Her personal tragedies in the aftermath of the scandal extend far beyond mere money woes. Her oldest son, Mark, took his own life at the age of 46, on the two-year anniversary of his father's arrest. In 2014, her surviving son Andrew died at 48 from a rare form of lymphoma that had been in remission for years. Andrew himself blamed the relapse on the stress of living with what his father had done.
Ruth left New York City after her husband's incarceration and lived with her sister for two years in Boca Raton, Florida before moving into one of her son Andrew's homes in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. After he died, she moved into a nondescript, one-bedroom condo in Old Greenwich. According to recent reports, she apparently moved out sometime in 2019. Neighbors said she lived quietly in town. "If you didn’t know who she was, you wouldn’t think she was anyone. She tries not to stand out," a local resident told Greenwich Time in 2017. A far cry from the days she spent as the toast of Manhattan society.
The now 79-year-old never divorced her husband, but she has publicly renounced him. In a rare interview with Today in 2011, she said she did not miss him and that "the villain of all this is behind bars." In 2017, she was portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer in the HBO film, The Wizard of Lies.
Ruth hasn't spoken to the media in years. We'll just have to wait and see if she breaks her longtime silence in light of her husband's death.
Update: Per the New York Post, Ruth appears to have moved in with the family of her former daughter-in-law, Susan Elkin, the first wife of her son Mark. They reside in a $3.8 million waterfront home in Old Greenwich.
[Photo via NBCUniversal]