Saturday, January 3, 2009


Jasper Johns, Diver, 1962 owned by Norman Braman is on ArtNews 'Ten most Wanted Works of Art" list

The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) listed him as a benefactor in their 2005-2006 capital campaign but Bernie Madoff has likely hurt the arts more than any other individual in history with his Ponzi scheme.

For those that don't know, a Ponzi scheme is a duplicitous investment deal that involves the promise of abnormally high profits to investors. The money paid to early investors is gleamed from later investors rather than from returns generated by an actual business.

At age 95, Carl J. Shapiro, a prominent Boston art patron and the former director of Vanity Fair Corporation was one of Mr. Madoff's most unsuspecting victims. Shapiro and his wife, Ruth's namesake foundation, "The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation" lost a shocking $145 million in the Madoff's Ponzi scheme. The Foundation was a large contributor to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Norton Museum in Palm Beach. Mr. Shapiro was also a strong advocate for the foundation of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. Even more unfortunate was the fact that Mr. Shapiro was one of Mr. Madoff's most loyal investors and introduced him to many of his other future "investors" at their shared country club in Palm Beach.

But Mr. Shapiro was not the only wealthy art patron to lose money with Madoff. Norman Braman, a billionaire, former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, and owner of many important and coveted paintings including Jasper John's Diver (which is on ArtNews 'Ten Most Wanted Works of Art' List) was also duped.