Books shed light on Bernard Madoff's shady activities

But it is the cheeky details that can make for truly dishy reading. For example, the "very special" $7,400 unconstructed, handmade vicuna-and-cashmere, cream-and-brown herringbone jacket that took a very special guy to see it for what it was worth — and afford to pay for it. Bernie was that kind of guy, David Neff, the owner of the chic Trillion boutique on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, tells the author. Oppenheimer describes "the enormous custom-built, walk-in closet" in Madoff's East 64th Street co-op apartment and his passion for custom-tailored suits and expensive wristwatches. He spills out the contents of one month's worth of charges on the Madoff corporate American Express Platinum card.

He throws a few jabs at the spending ways of Madoff's wife, Ruth, his two sons and his niece. Other tasty minutiae: An employee in the London office spills the beans about what Madoff always ordered for breakfast when he was there, not kosher, and that he and Ruth enjoyed the music of Neil Diamond. And that he stayed at the Lanesborough hotel, where guests had private butlers assigned to them. He even tosses in a few morsels about Madoff's alleged extramarital affairs and regular masseuse appointments — all tidbits that do little to explain how or why he did what he did, but add a little spice to this unsavory story.

Kerry Hannon is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

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