MADOFF’S FASHIONABLE FEEDER: Robert Jaffe, who allegedly funneled millions of dollars from fellow Boston and Palm Beach, Fla., socialites to Ponzi scheme investor Bernard Madoff, may have to give up his shopping habit. The self-described clotheshorse, who financed his dapper wardrobe in part through his work as vice president of Cohmad Securities Corp, a company reportedly established to connect his well-to-do friends with Madoff’s investment fund, was at one time named Louis Boston’s best customer. Ten years ago, WWD’s brother publication DNR interviewed Jaffe on his personal style and lifelong relationship with Louis Boston. “The clothing I wear is more — dare I say this — cutting edge,” he said at the time, adding he worked at the high-end retailer in the Seventies to help pay for college. “[My style is] a few years ahead of the pack.” In the article, he noted his preference for luxury brands, citing Kiton and Zegna among his favorites. Debbie Greenberg, owner of Louis Boston, said Monday that Jaffe is still a semiregular shopper at her store. “Bob still comes in when he’s in town,” she said, but declined to elaborate on his purchasing habits. The shopping spree may be over, though. The Massachusetts secretary of state recently subpoenaed Jaffe in relation to the scandal. Madoff has said he acted alone, but investigators want to determine how much Jaffe knew of Madoff’s investment practices and whether he recklessly steered his clients to the alleged swindler. Reports also indicate Jaffe suffered significant personal losses in Madoff’s fall. His father-in-law certainly did. Carl Shapiro, who made his first fortune selling his dress company, Kay Windsor, to VF Corp. and was one of Madoff’s early investors, has reportedly lost nearly half a billion dollars in the scheme’s collapse. In the interview with DNR, Jaffe described the hazard of knowing the good life. “Once you’ve had filet mignon, you don’t want to go back,” he said.
This story first appeared in the December 30, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
ON THE BLOCK?: Rumblings are afoot that François Pinault, through his investment holding company Artemis, is looking to sell the tony Château Latour vineyard, as well as the Christie’s International auction house. According to British press reports, the French business tycoon has hired Lazard to shop around the winery he purchased in 1993. He acquired Christie’s five years later. A Christie’s spokeswoman said the company does not comment on speculation. No one could be reached at Château Latour or at Artemis on Monday.