Bernard Madoff, mastermind of the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history, ripping off tens of thousands of clients of as much as $65 billion, died Wednesday.
He was 82.
His death at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, was confirmed by the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Madoff died apparently from natural causes, the AP reported earlier citing an unidentified person familiar with the matter.
He would have turned 83 on April 29.
Madoff was serving a 150-year sentence at the prison, where he had been treated for what his attorney called terminal kidney disease.
He pleaded guilty in 2009 to a scheme that investigators said started in the early 1970s and defrauded as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries over four decades by the time Madoff was busted on Dec. 11, 2008 — after his two sons turned him in.
Madoff insisted the fraud did not begin until the early 1990s, when, he said, “the market stalled due to the onset of the recession and the Gulf War.”
In 2013, Madoff claimed the break in the market that started the Great Recession led to his scam.
“I thought this would be only a short-term trade which could be made up once the market became receptive,” he wrote. “The rest is my tragic history of never being able to recover.”
Last June, a judge denied a request for compassionate release, saying Madoff committed “one of the most egregious financial crimes of all time,” and that “many people are still suffering.”
Madoff was born in Queens, New York, on April 29, 1938, the son of Sylvia and Ralph Madoff, a plumber who became a stockbroker.
For more than 50 years, Bernie Madoff was renowned on Wall Street, a big money manager who founded his firm at age 22 and became non-executive chairman of the Nasdaq in 1990.
He was credited with helping develop some of the systems and market structures that moved the stock market beyond the trading floor and gave rise to modern, electronic trading.
Madoff’s life came crashing down in 2008, during the depths of the financial crisis.