Aspenites keep close tabs on Madoff lawsuit revelations

By David O. Williams
Real AspenFebruary 4, 2011
A lot of people in Aspen and other formerly more wealthy Coloradans are watching with interest recent revelations stemming from numerous lawsuits trying to recover the ill-gotten gains of Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff. Yesterday the blockbuster from The New York Times was that JPMorgan Chase officials allegedly ignored clear signs of Madoff’s fraud despite their own deep suspicions. Bank officials deny any wrongdoing.

Now today’s revelation in The New York Times – also stemming from lawsuit documents — that New York Mets’ owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz were so “enamored of the enormous profits they earned while investing over decades with Mr. Madoff that they ignored repeated and specific warnings that he might have been operating a fraud.”

Late last year in Vail, just a week after the suicide of Madoff’s son Mark in New York, the Vail Sonnenalp Hotel hosted a Bernie Madoff Auction of fine art, jewelry, rugs, bronzes and more due to losses causes by the infamous Ponzi schemer now serving 150 years in prison.

Bernie Madoff

The auction featured paintings by Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Norman Rockwell, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Peter Max, according to a mailer sent to Vail residents. Madoff victimized dozens of wealthy Coloradans, including prominent realtors and developers in Vail. His scheme also pilfered investments from 30 foundations and individuals in Aspen.

And around the state, other prominent Coloradans, including former congressman Tom Tancredo, lost money. Tancredo suggested Madoff should be publicly beaten with a baseball bat.

Next week in Vail, another banking giant linked to recent staggering real estate losses in resort communities across the American West will be in town to talk new energy investment. The Credit Suisse Energy Summit will be held Tuesday at a Vail hotel.

Credit Suisse floated enormous and, critics say, highly risky loans to resort owners and developers of posh retreats catering to the uber-rich, including the private Yellowstone Club in Wyoming, the now-defunct Tamarack Resort in Idaho and a proposed private ski and golf resort off the backside of Vail called the Battle Mountain project. That resort has now changed ownership and is years from ever becoming a reality.

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