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High-profile names appear on expanded list of Bernard Madoff's alleged victims

Actor John Malkovich, talk-show host Larry King and retired Dodgers pitching ace Sandy Koufax are among those who lost money in the alleged $50-billion Ponzi scheme.

February 06, 2009|Walter Hamilton and Tina Daunt

NEW YORK AND LOS ANGELES — Call it Six Degrees of Bernard L. Madoff.

To a roster that already included such notables as director Steven Spielberg and actor Kevin Bacon, add actor John Malkovich, talk-show host Larry King and retired Dodgers pitching ace Sandy Koufax among those hurt by Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme.

Their names appeared on a New York Bankruptcy Court filing late Wednesday that listed thousands of people and institutions allegedly duped by Madoff.

The 162-page document lays out the extent of the Madoff web, particularly in the entertainment world and in Southern California, where dozens of victims live.

"They're high-profile and wealthy, and that's what he wanted," said Lance Hicks, chief executive of Finance 500, an Irvine investment firm. "You're not going to find that in Omaha but you're going to find it in Hollywood."

That description fits Fred Hayman, retailer to the stars at Giorgio Beverly Hills, which was closed in 1989, and then at his eponymous store. He created Giorgio perfume and had a Beverly Hills street named after him in 2007 to honor his decades of amping up Rodeo Drive's snob appeal.

Hayman said he lost a "substantial" amount to Madoff's alleged machinations.

"It is what it is," said Hayman, who invested with Madoff several years ago on the advice of a friend.

"I don't have any ill will toward my friend," Hayman said. "But it's unfortunate that Madoff turned out to be a dirty, rotten crook."

Is Hayman broke? Hardly. (He sold his perfume empire long ago for a hefty sum to Avon Products Inc.) Now in his 80s, he says: "It's only money."

The client list was compiled by a court-appointed trustee hired to help sort out the mess after Madoff was arrested in early December.

Madoff, confined to home detention at his Manhattan apartment, allegedly admitted to his sons that he had run a $50-billion Ponzi scheme.

The list was pieced together using files from Madoff's defunct investment firm as well as messages from customers who claimed to have lost money.

The document contains so many names that it's nearly the Madoff edition of the "six degrees of separation" theory -- which says that anyone can be connected to another person through a chain of six people -- and its Hollywood corollary involving Kevin Bacon.

Many names are listed several times, apparently because of multiple accounts. Investor losses weren't disclosed.

Although it is the most comprehensive tally yet of Madoff investors, it probably excludes some victims, particularly those who were funneled in through outside investment funds.

The list also names at least one person who said he didn't invest -- Madoff's own attorney.

The inclusion of Madoff's lead criminal-defense attorney, Ira Lee Sorkin, created a brief stir in New York legal circles. Some questioned whether a victim could provide an unbiased defense.

Sorkin said that he never placed money with the financier. But the attorney wouldn't comment on whether his mother and father, who also were on the list, invested with Madoff.

"You'll have to ask my parents," Sorkin said. Both parents are deceased.

Several victims described their losses as nominal.

"It was not a substantial loss that he took," said Howard Rubenstein, a spokesman for Larry King.

Larry Silverstein, the developer of the World Trade Center in New York, also took a hit.

"Losses incurred by Larry Silverstein and his family absolutely pale in comparison to those innocent investors who lost their life savings as a result of this scheme," said Bud Perrone, a spokesman.

Among other victims were the Wunderkinder Foundation, a charity funded by Spielberg; the family trust of Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation SKG; Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.); and the Kissinger Family Foundation, run by Henry's brother, Walter.

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walter.hamilton@latimes.com

tina.daunt@latimes.com

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