Outsider Madoff Cultivated Steady Image

Accused scamster made exclusivity his scheme's selling point
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2008 8:33 AM CST
Bernard Madoff, chairman of Madoff Investment Securities, returns to his Manhattan apartment after making a court appearance Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 in New York.    (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
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(Newser) – Bernard Madoff rose to fame and fortune as one of America's top financial insiders but he never stopped acting like an outsider, associates tell the Wall Street Journal. Despite his reputation as outgoing "Uncle Bernie," the disgraced financier was often ill at ease socially and could be brusque with clients—especially when they asked too many questions.

Madoff built a stock-trading empire starting with money he saved working as a Brooklyn lifeguard. He started his money management business—now believed to have been a colossal scam—starting with a group of close friends. It slowly expanded to include a selcted group of elite investors, with Madoff always careful to maintain an air of exclusivity and secrecy. "You couldn't meet Madoff," one banker said. "He was like a pop star."