Fri 13 Mar 2009
Now that 70-year old Bernie Madoff has been tucked away in prison for up to 150 years (which is not a life sentence given that Madoff sold his soul to live forever), the notorious swindler is in a new legal battle with John Thain, ex-Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch.
Madoff found his closet-sized jail cell “pretty confining” so he hired Thain to decorate his new crossbar home. “John has an excellent eye,” Madoff said at the time he secured Thain’s services, “I know he’ll give me something that doesn’t feel so ‘prison-y’.”
Thain, who was lambasted with bad P.R. earlier this year for spending $1.22 million in corporate funds to renovate two conference rooms, a reception area and his office (the tab included a $35,000 commode and $1,400 wastebasket), recently opened an interior decorating firm called Johnny T’s Fab Designateria. He was excited to have Madoff as a client.
Two men met in Madoff’s luxurious New York apartment over three weeks in February discussing the project. “I told John I was on a strict budget, my legal fees are outrageous. I said to him, I said, ‘Johnny, you’ve only got $100 million to play with. I know that’s less than $2 million a square foot but I need something really nice on a tight budget. Please give me something cozy. Maybe a gold-plated commode with emerald-encrusted T.P. holder, a Craftmatic Adjustable Bed that vibrates and dispenses Chteau Latour Pauillac 1990 or some other fine wine, maybe some dangling beads to separate the cell and make rooms look bigger and a rec area with a sequoia pool table or platinum ping pong table. Johnny nodded his head and said ‘No prob, Maddy, I gotcha covered, babe.”
Thain proceeded to bill Madoff $50 million for partial payment and got down to work. Madoff felt confident he was in great hands for the next 150 years of confinement.
When Madoff showed up to his new home recently, he was shocked to discover no gold commode, cool dangling beads, rec center or fancy wine-dispensing bed. His cell was standard issue bland with a couple boxes from IKEA stacked on the bed. Taped on the boxes was an envelope with a note from Thain and an invoice for an additional $50 million. The note read, “Dear Bernie: Since the budget was pretty tight, I got you a GLUR, RHEA, KRIG and FIIR decorating systems from an exclusive little Swedish company I’ve recently discovered. When you put these together, I think you’ll see your cell will take on a more palatial feel. You’re gonna love it babe! Please see about expediting my final payment. I’m a little strapped for cashola and the Swedes are leaning hard on me for their money. Thanks, dude, rock on rockstar! Johnny T.”
Madoff feels like he’s been cheated and has contacted his lawyers to sue Thain. Mr. Madoff is most upset that he cannot correctly assemble his fine Swedish furnishings. “There’s always like three parts left over,” a frustrated Madoff said throwing a small allen wrench against the wall.
Thain could not be reached for comment.