Former fashion and media executives are among those who have lost significant sums in Bernard Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme.
Those caught up in Madoff’s investment scam are said to include former Leslie Fay chairman and chief executive officer John Pomerantz and his wife Laura, principal at PBS Realty Advisors LLC; Adrienne and Luigi Vittadini; Nine West founder Jerome Fisher; Kay Windsor founder Carl Shapiro; Lee Mellis, former chief financial officer of Puritan Fashion Corp., and Alexandra Penney, former editor in chief of Self.
Madoff was arrested last week and charged with a massive securities fraud. He made his first public appearance at the federal courthouse in Manhattan on Wednesday, where he was ordered to undergo house arrest and wear an electronic bracelet.
Charities, hedge funds, universities, individual investors and banks have reported losses of more than $20 billion so far from Madoff’s alleged multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme, which is believed to be one of the largest frauds in U.S. history.
Shapiro’s total exposure to the Madoff fund was said to be $545 million, and of that, the Shapiro Family Foundation, founded by Shapiro and his wife, Ruth, lost about $145 million. The foundation has given more than $80.3 million over the past decade to hundreds of schools, hospitals, arts groups, and community-based nonprofit organizations. Nine West’s Fisher is said to have lost $150 million. The Pomerantzes, the Vittadinis and Mellis couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. Penney said she lost her entire life savings.
“There are people who are worse off than I am, but it’s the shock and trauma [of losing] every cent I’ve ever earned with my own brains,” said Penney in a telephone interview Thursday. “I never inherited a dollar or took a cent of alimony. It’s all gone, and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Penney said she was introduced to Madoff’s investment firm through “an old wealthy family friend.”
“I had all my money in the bank, and then put all my money into it [Madoff’s firm],” said Penney, a professional photographer and author of several books, including “How to Keep Your Man Monogamous,” and “How to Make Love to Each Other.”
Unquestionably, the financial impact on fashion-related charities, many of whose donors have been financially wiped out, will be sizeable in the future. “The charities will be impacted by it. Most of those who support the charities and attend the functions were damaged by Madoff. It’s got to have an effect,” said Richard Feldman, president of Castle Hill Apparel, who wasn’t an investor with Madoff.
Marcia Stein, executive director of Citymeals-on-Wheels, said so far the charity has suffered a loss of $200,000 from a few donors who won’t be giving this year, which equates to 31,000 meals. “It’s a shame for everyone,” she said.
Some recent media reports have incorrectly stated that the UJA-Federation suffered losses associated with the Madoff situation. However, John Ruskay, executive vice president and ceo of UJA-Federation of New York, said, “UJA-Federation of New York did not invest, directly or indirectly, in Madoff securities, and did not experience any loss associated with this recent event.”
Rena Rowan Damone, the fashion designer who now lives in Palm Beach, Fla., hadn’t invested any money with Madoff, but described the mood in Palm Beach on Thursday as somber. She said she’s heard rumors they might have to close the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach “since most of the supporters were from the [Palm Beach] Country Club.” Madoff was a member of the club, as were many of his investors. One of the requirements of being admitted into his funds was to give a significant amount to Jewish charities.
“Palm Beach will change. A lot of the restaurants where you couldn’t get a reservation are practically empty,” Rowan Damone added. “Usually you can’t park [in Palm Beach], especially around Christmastime, and it’s not crowded since this happened. Everybody’s kind of disappointed. And the stores are empty. It’s a sad time.”
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion