There are already lots of books out on famous swindler Bernard Madoff. So if you were to market one more, and you really wanted to make a splash, how would you do it? One option would be to shroud it in mystery and pretend that it could possibly be about anybody but Madoff. That appears to be what Little, Brown & Company are doing with their new Untitled by Anonymous, as The New York Times picked up on in its recent story on the book. So why should we think this secret tome covers a 2008 white collar crime?
The publisher touts the mysterious book as "the inside story of life with one of the most controversial figures of our time." There is no main writing credit, but its co-author, Catherine Hooper, is engaged to Andrew Madoff, Bernie Madoff's younger son. The two of them run a business called Black Umbrella, a consulting firm that helps families prepare for unexpected disasters.
The book's other co-author, freelance writer Laurie Sandell, has already published a tell-all book about her father, The Impostor's Daughter, which started as an anonymous 2003 essay in Esquire. She's a former staff writer for Us Weekly and Glamour, according to her website, as well as an illustrator. Sure, it could be that she's gotten ahold of enough details about another mysterious, fascinating personality to fill out a book, but if that were true, why would she need Hooper? Sandell profiles celebrities for a living now, and has plenty of contacts of her own. Hooper, while an accomplished businesswoman (she used to be a partner in a large fly fishing store), doesn't have a background as a writer (though she does keep a not-very-well-updated blog).
As for the book's main author, Anonymous, it's very, very hard to think of anybody it could possibly be aside from Andrew Madoff, who sounds like he needs to get some things off his chest now that his father's arrest has faded from the headlines a bit. The younger son hasn't spoken to his father or his mother Ruth since Bernie's arrest in 2008, according to a Wall Street Journal profile from late last year. But he previously worked at Madoff Securities which, though it didn't come under investigation as part of Bernie's Ponzi scheme, was reportedly a hotbed of scandalous behavior in its own right, according to the New York Daily News. That could be a book right there. The Journal profile came out just after Andrew's brother, Mark Madoff, committed suicide. It said Andrew maintained relationships with former Madoff traders over games of squash as he tried to "look forward and keep busy."
According to The New York Times, staffers at the massive Powell's Books in Portland "started an office pool this week to guess the subject of the book," with a bottle of wine or six-pack of beer going to the one who guesses the correct person for the subject. Our bet: Anybody who guessed anybody aside from Bernie Madoff is going to go thirsty.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.