Nic Cage Finds a Buyer

cityfile · 08/27/09 07:40AM

• Nicolas Cage may have found a buyer for his 48th-floor apartment at the Olympic Tower on Fifth Avenue. Cage has reportedly received two offers on the 3,550-square-feet pad, which was most recently listed for $9.75 million. [NYP, BHS]
• Investment banker Tom Whalen and his wife Dana English have closed on the sale of their 8,000-square-foot townhouse at 34 West 10th Street. The 19th-century manse, which was rumored to be selling to an unidentified Texas banker for $15 million earlier this summer, sold for $15.4 million to an entity called Go Yard LLC. [Cityfile]
• Arvind and Shilpa Sanger have paid $11.98 million for a penthouse at 170 East End Avenue. Arvind, who founded Geosphere Capital in 2007, previously worked for Steve Cohen's Connecticut-based SAC Capital. [Cityfile]

Ezra Merkin's Walls Will Not Be Bare For Long!

cityfile · 07/08/09 10:06AM

Last week, Ezra Merkin, the disgraced financier who funneled a couple of billion to Bernie Madoff and has since been slapped with civil fraud charges, agreed to give up his prized collection of art as part of a deal with the attorney general's office. Like you, we found the news deeply troubling. Can you imagine what it must be like to spend years buying up one priceless Rothko painting after another, only to have Andrew Cuomo come along and run off them? Not fun! As always, though, we're here to help: We just sent a lovely Rothko poster to Merkin at his 740 Park Avenue duplex. Just because you aided and abetted the biggest crook in American history doesn't mean you should have to stare at bare walls all day!

Ruth Madoff Catches a Break

cityfile · 07/01/09 06:58AM

Ruth Madoff can breathe a little bit easier today. According to the Post, Bernie Madoff's wife will not be prosecuted for having any role in her husband's Ponzi scheme, since federal prosecutors "lack evidence that she was either aware of or involved in Bernard Madoff's scam." And here we were thinking that the $15.5 million she withdrew from her brokerage accounts in the weeks before Madoff's arrest was a little bit suspicious!

The Noose Tightens For Madoff's Accomplices

cityfile · 06/30/09 09:23AM

A "person familiar with the investigation" into Bernie Madoff has tells the AP that the government is pursuing charges against 10 more people who allegedly played a role in carrying out the biggest Ponzi scheme ever. Who are they? No names were mentioned, unfortunately. But if one of the people on the list is hedge fund manager Ezra Merkin, that won't be the only piece of bad news he receives this week. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo unveiled a deal this morning to sell off a collection of Merkin's Rothko paintings and Giacometti sculptures, items that will go to repay people who lost money as part of the scheme. An anonymous buyer has already stepped up and agreed to pay $310 million for the works, and when various liens, commissions and legal fees are subtracted, an estimated $191 million will eventually be left over for Madoff's victims. What will Merkin do with the bare walls of his mammoth apartment at 740 Park? Well, this painting is still for sale, as far as we know, and would be rather fitting, wouldn't it? [AP, WSJ]

Merkin Steps Aside

cityfile · 05/22/09 06:26AM

Ezra Merkin, the money manager who invested more than $2.4 billion in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme and has since been sued by both Andrew Cuomo and his disgruntled investors, is not having a good week. His hedge fund was turned over to liquidators the other day. Now he's caved to pressure and stepped aside as president of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue. What could be next? If you hear about an emergency co-op board meeting at 740 Park, you may have your answer. [NYT]

Ezra Merkin Goes Down

cityfile · 05/19/09 09:40AM

Ezra Merkin, the money manager who plowed more than $2.4 billion of his clients' cash into Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, will now need to find a new occupation to keep him busy. He's agreed to turn over his three hedge funds to a liquidator at the "request" of Andrew Cuomo. As you may recall, the attorney general filed suit against the disgraced financier last month; Merkin is also contending with suits by about half a dozen of his investors, including Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman, who lost $15 million, and NYU, which lost $24 million in Merkin's Ariel hedge fund. On a more positive note, Merkin remains the frontrunner to take over as president of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue when the board convenes tomorrow! And if he decides to leave finance and go into journalism, he has a fantastic connection to help him get a foot in the door. Plus the Post has a new photo of him wearing a super-cool hat, so he's got that going for him, too, which is nice. [NYT]

Mort Zuckerman's Latest Failed Relationship

cityfile · 04/08/09 07:42AM

When Mort Zuckerman first revealed that he'd lost a bundle to Bernie Madoff via money manager Ezra Merkin, he seemed to brush it off, suggesting he'd only entrusted a small part of his charitable trust to Merkin. A few days ago, he revealed that it wasn't just his charitable foundation that fell victim; he lost $15 million of his own money, too. But the scandal may have cost him a good friend as well. Zuckerman's lawsuit, which you can view below, says Zuckerman had forged "a close relationship" with Merkin up until news of the scheme came to light.

Zuckerman Joins the Merkin Party

cityfile · 04/06/09 10:04AM

It's shaping up to be a particularly bad day for Ezra Merkin. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sued the money manager this morning for steering more than $2 billion to Bernie Madoff. Now real estate mogul/Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman is suing for fraud, too, over the $25 million he handed to Merkin as part of his charitable trust as well as another $15 million he says he invested personally. [Bloomberg]

Cuomo Sues Merkin

cityfile · 04/06/09 08:16AM

Andrew Cuomo just filed a civil lawsuit against Ezra Merkin for fraud and deception, alleging that Merkin "betrayed hundreds of investors who entrusted him with their savings by recklessly feeding their funds into the largest Ponzi scheme in history." [WSJ, NYT]

The Times Fesses Up

cityfile · 03/24/09 11:58AM

Remember how author Daphne Merkin downplayed her brother's connection to Bernie Madoff in the Times this past weekend, describing Ezra Merkin as "a sibling who did business with him," and then suggesting that Madoff's victims weren't really victims, since no one held a gun to their heads and demanded their cash? We weren't the only ones surprised by the bizarro op-ed. The Times agrees that a bit more disclosure was warranted, according to an email a reader received from Times public editor Clark Hoyt:

It's All Harvard's Fault

cityfile · 03/23/09 01:01PM

If you're outraged about the current state of the economy and you need an outlet for your anger, you may want to catch a bus to Boston instead of taking one to visit the homes of AIG executives. Just a few of the names in the press these days who happen to be graduates of Harvard Business School: Former Merrill Lynch chiefs Stan O'Neal and John Thain, former treasury secretaries Bob Rubin and Hank Paulson, General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, and Bernie Madoff enabler Ezra Merkin. [Clusterstock]

Daphne Merkin to the Rescue

cityfile · 03/23/09 08:39AM

Author Daphne Merkin penned an op-ed piece for the Times yesterday and once again offered up a few thoughts on the scandal concerning her brother, disgraced money manager Ezra Merkin, who steered more than $1.5 billion to Bernie Madoff and who has since been forced to shut down his funds amid half a dozen lawsuits. This time, though, Daphne attaches a disclaimer to her piece, albeit one that might strike any rational person as a touch inadequate: "I did not know Mr. Madoff nor did I invest with his firm, but have a sibling who did business with him." Did business indeed! But that's not the only bizarre bit.

Merkin Sued Again

cityfile · 03/09/09 08:55AM

J. Ezra Merkin, the disgraced money manager who steered more than $2 billion to Bernie Madoff, has a new lawsuit to contend with. NYU filed suit against Merkin last month, accusing him of losing $24 million of the unversity's endowment due to his "deliberate ignorance." Now a pension plan, which says it lost $4 million investing in Merkin's various funds, is taking action, too. The full complaint appears below.

Understatement of the Day

cityfile · 01/30/09 12:17PM

Mort Zuckerman's foundation lost $30 million when he handed over funds to money manager Ezra Merkin, who in turn invested the money with Bernie Madoff. So has Mort had any words with Merkin, who he's publicly promised to bury in a legal avalanche? Indeed he has! "I had one brief conversation," he tells the Financial Times. "I would describe it as intense." [FT]

Anderson Keeps Up the Act, An Intervention for Amy

cityfile · 01/26/09 06:50AM

• Why didn't Anderson Cooper and the "attractive Hispanic man" he flew to DC with sit next to each other on the flight? [Page Six, previously]
• Paul McCartney and girlfriend Nancy Shevell may be getting ready to marry now that Nancy's divorce has been finalized and Paul has gotten approval from daughter Stella. [NYP, NYDN]
• Someone hacked into Kanye West's MySpace and Gmail accounts. [P6]
• Prince Harry and girlfriend Chelsy Davy have split up. [People, Daily Mail]
• Execs from Amy Winehouse's record label have flown to St. Lucia to "drive some common sense" into her. Good luck! [The Sun]

The Lawyers Always Win in the End

cityfile · 01/20/09 03:38PM

Who stands to make a fortune from the Bernie Madoff mess? The lawyers, of course. Just a few of the firms currently involved in one way or another: Proskauer Rose, which is advising dozens of former Madoff clients; Paul, Weiss which was retained by Madoff's sons, Mark and Andrew; Dechert, the firm defending Madoff pal Ezra Merkin; and Simpson Thacher, which is now advising Walter Noel's Fairfield Greenwich Group. [Bloomberg, previously]

Madoff's Firm: Officially 'Tarnished'

cityfile · 01/16/09 10:20AM

• Bernie Madoff's brokerage firm, which is now up for sale, probably won't fetch more than $10 million, according to a report drafted by Lazard. The investment bank goes on to point out that Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities is now a "tarnished" brand. Really, you think? [Bloomberg]
• A report by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority suggests that Madoff may not have made a single trade on behalf of his investors. [AP]
• Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has issued subpoenas to determine whether money manager Ezra Merkin may have defrauded investors by putting their money in Madoff's hands without their knowledge. [NYT]
• Meet Frank DiPascali Jr., Bernie's former right-hand who is now under investigation for his role in Madoff's scheme. [Bloomberg]

Best Legal Job in America: Representing Walter Noel

cityfile · 01/14/09 03:16PM

Thousands of attorneys have lost their jobs as the economy has spiraled downward in recent months. One group who won't be unemployed in the near future (and probably won't be seeing their husbands and wives much either): The ones who have been retained to defend Bernie Madoff and the men who showered him with cash, people like Walter Noel, Ezra Merkin, and Bob Jaffe. This week, Noel's hedge fund, Fairfield Greenwich, was sued for a third time in as many weeks. The plaintiffs in the most recent suit include several anonymous offshore trusts and a Mexican businessman by the name of Carlos Gauch. But they've lined up a star attorney, David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, to make Noel's life miserable. Just in case you don't have anything better to do this evening, you can look over the most recent legal assault on Noel after the jump.