Bernard Madoff maintained a very public life, and, like a perfect con man, no one thought he was capable of the crimes he stands accused of. Two weeks ago he popped into his barber shop for his usual haircut, shave, mani, and pedi. “For me, he was a gentleman,” says the barber. “What he did outside, it was news to me.” He is one of countless Palm Beach denizens who knew Madoff not as a loathed schemer, but as a prominent, well-connected businessman.
“He’s very personable, very charming,” says one attorney who met Madoff on the golf course, where Madoff maintained a steady 9.8 handicap. “He moved in the best circles. He was probably one of the best social networkers in America.” Even now it seems impossible to them that such a well-connected man could be a crook. “It wasn’t like you were going with a fly-by-night scheme,” says one woman, who invested $1 million with Madoff. “You think.”