De La Villehuchet's body has been released to the New York City medical examiner. While there was nothing contained in the initial police reports to indicate the death was anything other than a suicide, no official cause of death has been released. The medical examiner did not expect to rule until at least tomorrow.
Madoff made headlines earlier this month when an unsealed criminal complaint in federal court in New York charged that he has been running the decades-long Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of $50 billion.
A former chairman of NASDAQ, Madoff was an investment advisor who catered to a handful of high net worth clients, one of whom told ABC News that Madoff was so sought after that, as recently as two months ago, he was turning down potential new business. His handful of clients routinely expected -- and received -- double digit returns, up market or down.
According to an SEC document filed in January 2008, and cited in the complaint, the firm had between 11 and 25 clients for the fiscal year ending October 2007, and managed about $17 billion in assets in 23 different accounts. As it has developed, it appears there were thousands of investors stung by Madoff's alleged scam.
Bernard Madoff Investment Securities, in addition to that private client practice, was also a market maker that trades with other dealers in bonds, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ, according to Bloomberg News.
The firm was the 23rd largest market maker on NASDAQ in October, handling a daily average of about 50 million shares a day. The firm specialized in handling orders from online brokers in some of the largest U.S. companies, including General Electric Co. and Citigroup Inc., Bloomberg News reported.
But on Dec. 10, Madoff allegedly told senior employees at his firm that his entire business was a fraud. According to the federal complaint, Madoff told those employees that he was "finished" and that "it's all one big lie." Madoff estimated "the losses from the fraud to be at least approximately $50 billion," the complaint states.
At that time Madoff also told those employees that he intended to surrender to authorities, but before he did, he planned to use $200 million to $300 million he had left to make payments to "selected employees, family and friends," the complaint states.
Madoff started his business in 1960 with $5,000 in savings. He resides in New York City and, according to clients, also maintains a posh waterfront home. Known to his clients as Bernie, he has a long and significant history on Wall Street, has been a NASDAQ chairman of the board, and was a founding member of the board of the International Securities Clearing Corp. in London.
In its company profile, the Web site for Madoff's firm says, "Clients know that Bernard Madoff has a personal interest in maintaining the unblemished record of value, fair-dealing, and high ethical standards that has always been the firm's hallmark."