Fortune Magazine: Post Madoff Scandal Will J. Ezra Merkin Dare to Attend Minyan at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue?

In a rather strange story yesterday, a Fortune writer wonders if Ezra Merkin will dare to show his face in shul, as she puts it, "If Merkin decides to attend services tonight..", in the article, "A closer look at Madoff's web: A small network of connections that helped to facilitate many of the investments," by Jennifer Reingold.

My assumption is that he dare not show he is fearful of humiliation, and that accordingly he did attend shul last night and today, he will continue to attend, he will make the announcements from the pulpit, if that is his duty as president. And furthermore I assume that anyone who used to shake hands with him and wish him a Good Shabbos in shul will continue to do so. It is altogether likely that Merkin will continue to act as president at least for the near term until the shul board elects a new president and tells him to desist.

But I wasn't there in shul this Shabbos so I don't really know what transpired. And for the record, if I had been there, I would not have shaken his hand or wished him a Good Shabbos. Fortune says:
(Fortune) -- It is not easy to stay on the sidelines while others are busy getting rich. Wall Street, moreover, is constitutionally predisposed to overdo things. The stereotype imagines a Wall Street populated by bulls and bears. In reality, the Street itself is neither bull nor bear but shark, constantly shifting direction in an eternal search for food. This feeding process involves massive shifts of capital, which inevitably, is sometimes misallocated. - J. Ezra Merkin, writing in an introduction to a chapter in the 75th anniversary version of Graham and Dodd's Security Analysis.

On Wednesday night, Dec. 10, J. Ezra Merkin held a benefit at his apartment at 740 Park Avenue in Manhattan to support the Israel Museum.

Smiling, cordial, and relaxed as he displayed his world-class collection of Rothkos, he looked totally unaware that the next morning his world - and that of hundreds of others - would fall apart because of that misallocated capital.

Within 24 hours, the man with whom he entrusted his clients' money, Bernard Madoff, was arrested in what may turn out to be the biggest financial fraud in history.

If Merkin decides to attend services tonight at New York's tony Fifth Avenue Synagogue, where he is the president, it's a fair bet that he won't invoke those words, written just months ago, when he was a well-respected investor and one of the top Jewish community leaders in the country. More likely, he won't show up at all.

It's likely to be a strange scene at the synagogue, home to the likes of Ron Perelman and other prominent businessmen, and one of the places where the Bernard Madoff fraud has hit hard....
And about the wonderful and warm community of the "tony" Fifth Avenue Synagogue, which I attended fairly often when I was a teenager growing up on the East Side... I will have more to say on another day.


Anonymous said...

if that ilk does not attend shul, the shuls will be half empty.

Anonymous said...

The NY Post reports that Ezra attended shul this week and was greeted warmly, according to an anon source.

Anonymous said...

Everyone makes mistakes. Some larger than others.
Looks like many hedge fund of funds were duped by Madoff. Madoff's conduct was not a mistake. He is deserving of our ire. But let's give Merkin and others like him the chance to right their mistake to the best of their ability. Remember these big shots were also duped by Madoff and lost much of their wealth alongside their investors. Their mistake is that their due diligence was not strong enough to catch Madoff's highly sophisticated scam. That puts them in good company with over 10 major banks and the SEC. That doesn't excuse the fact that they didn't catch the scam sooner. But it is only human to make mistakes and then do ones utmost to make amends. Chaya

Anonymous said...

the issue with merkin isn't that he was duped. That's excusable.

the issue with merkin is two fold

1) he shouldn't be investing the funds of an organization that he's a trustee with himself, that's an unethical conflict of interss

2) even if one can justify investing the funds with himself, the fact that he charged YU the full fee is horribly unethical, as any other investor of that amount would have been given a discount.

3) even though he was duped, it appears his fund was just a middle-man to madoff, which is not what he seems to have implied to his investors. again, unethical.

I've been saying for the past few days that Merkin is going to come out of this worse off than Madoff.

Anonymous said...

oi le-rasha, oi leshecheno.

Anyone want to buy a membership in the Palm Beach Country Club?