The eldest son of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff was found hanged in his Manhattan apartment on the second anniversary of the day his father was arrested in the worst investment fraud in American history.
Mark Madoff, 46, whose body was discovered on Saturday, became another casualty of the saga that sent his father to prison and swindled thousands of their life savings.
Every day for two years, he had carried the toxic burden of a name that meant fraud to the world.
Mr Madoff was found hanging from a black dog leash in the living room of his SoHo, New York City, loft, while his two-year-old son slept nearby.
People close to him said he was despondent over press coverage of his father’s case, the continuing criminal investigation of Madoff family members in the multibillion-dollar scheme and his struggle to rebuild his life. The intense scrutiny approaching the anniversary “became too much for him”, said a person who had recent contact with him, speaking anonymously.
Mr Madoff’s wife Stephanie sent her stepfather to the couple’s £3.8 million apartment after he emailed her at Disney World in Florida, where she was on holiday with their four-year-old daughter.
In the messages, he told her he loved her and that someone should check on their two-year-old son Nicholas, police said. He left no suicide note.
“This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy,” his lawyer Martin Flumenbaum said. “Mark was an innocent victim of his father’s monstrous crime who succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo.”
Mr Madoff and his brother Andrew, who told authorities that their father had confessed to them the day before he was arrested on December 11 2008, have said they were unaware of his crimes. But they have remained under investigation and had been named in the multiple civil lawsuits accusing them of profiting from the scheme.
Bernard Madoff, 72, swindled a long list of investors out of billions of dollars. He admitted that he ran his Ponzi scheme for at least two decades, cheating thousands of individuals, charities, celebrities and institutional investors.