The late and infamous Wall Street swindler Bernie Madoff was the architect of the largest Ponzi scheme in history (almost $64 billion) and ruined thousands of lives before he was ultimately brought to justice. Madoff made for such an implausible, Shakespearean tale that two Academy Award winners turned down the chance to play him: Richard Dreyfuss in the 2016 miniseries “Madoff” and the 2017 film “The Wizard of… “Robert De Niro in Lies.”

Now you can add the name of one Joseph Scotto to the list, as he portrays Madoff in the four-part Netflix documentary series “Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street” — though Scotto, who with the help of hair and makeup, bears a supernatural Similar to Madoff, there is no line. In this detail-oriented, number-crunching, in-depth research work from the acclaimed and prolific documentarian Joe Berlinger (“Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” “Murder Among the Mormons”). Scotto is seen in several re-creations, either as an enigmatic man with a chilling secret who says nothing, or as a shadowy figure walking through Wall Street, who alternately is charming and intimidating to his employees, which include his brother Peter and his sons Andrew and Mark.

It’s an effective technique that provides some much-needed color to proceedings that can be a bit dry, though for the most part Berlinger makes great use of interviews with the expected roster of investigative journalists, former associates, financial experts, and more. . Walk us through Madoff’s Ponzi playbook and explain how he was able to get away with so many crimes for so long. (The soundtrack, courtesy of System of a Down’s Serj Tankian, is invaluable, adding a cinematic vibe.)

‘Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street’

Berlinger and his editing team deftly weave in audio of Madoff with observations and recollections from authors of books about Madoff, former employees of Madoff’s firm, and informants, including, for example, a 2017 statement in which he says, “One of my problems was I always wanted to please everybody. Others pass more harsh judgments, with one observer calling Madoff “a financial sociopath, a serial financial killer”, and another noting That when faced with respectable failure or success wading through a mountain of lies, Madoff chose the lie each time.

In the premiere episode, we get the expected back story, explaining how Madoff grew up in Queens as the son of Jewish immigrants and was affected by watching his father fail in several businesses. In the 1960s, the young and highly ambitious Madoff worked at his father-in-law’s accounting firm, operating a small investment biz specializing in the “Pink Sheets” aka over-the-counter stocks out of the New York Stock Exchange. went to do It was high-risk, high-reward stuff, with Madoff managing people’s money and taking loans from his father-in-law to cover his losses. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Madoff was operating a legal brokerage firm, but also engaged in a “shadow business” in which he pooled clients’ resources without disclosing them and making mandatory was operating an unregulated mutual fund.

Joseph Scott plays Bernie Madoff in the re-creation.

Throughout the 1980s, even during and after the October 19, 1987 crash, Madoff shed his reputation as a golden boy who could do no wrong and seemed to be deterred by setbacks. Has an almost supernatural ability to avoid, turns profits for his clients. And stay one step ahead of the markets. It seemed too good to be true because it was too good to be true. With the help of his loyal chief lieutenant Frank DiPascali, a rough-and-tumble but whip-smart character who looked like he could have been cast on “The Sopranos,” Madoff secured huge loans from major players when investors Called to keep it. The trick is – never engage in an actual trade full time.

Madoff’s legitimate and successful firm had lavish, high-tech offices on the 19th floor of the Lipstick Building in midtown Manhattan – but only a select few employees had access to the 17th-floor offices, which appeared to be trapped in a dark time warp with dot matrix printers, boxes of files piled on the ceiling, and 20-year-old computers. It was here that DiPascali and a small team of longtime Madoff employees ran a Ponzi scheme, robbing Peter to pay Paul, then robbing Paul to pay Peter.

Madoff and his team continued this ploy through the use of stagecraft such as fabricating and fabricating fake documents, creating software to document non-existent trades, and taking out huge loans to cover their tracks. In the late 1990s, forensic accounting and financial fraud expert Harry Markopolos harassed the SEC, providing detailed evidence that Madoff was almost certainly running a Ponzi scheme, but it was not until 2008 that Madoff faced trial. 7 billion dollars. With nowhere near the ransom and that kind of cash, Madoff confessed the scheme to his sons, who were legally bound to turn in their father or face serious charges as accomplices.

The final episode details Madoff’s arrest and imprisonment, but the series is arguably most compelling when we hear from some of his victims, many of whom lost everything because their grandparents and then their mothers Dad trusted Bernie Madoff. We may never get a full answer as to what motivated Madoff, but we get a sense that it was a combination of an obsessive need to prove himself, an almost pathological desire to be admired and loved, and to be loved by his fellow men. and lack of empathy for the woman. ,

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