Regardless of whether Mark Madoff had worked on the scheme, he profited from it, and thus his wealth was subject to confiscation.
We know that Mark Madoff’s name was so thoroughly tarnished that he despaired of ever returning to good repute. Link here.
Mark Madoff‘s suicide shows a good name going bad. From having been proud of the name Madoff, Mark suffered the unbearable anguish of having his name become a stigma.
Mark Madoff killed himself because he could not live with the shame. He must also have calculated that with him gone, his wife and children could change their names and escape the family curse.
French sociologist Emile Durkheim speculated that there were four different kinds of suicide: egotistic, altruistic, anomic and fatalistic. Mark Madoff‘s seems to have been altruistic: he killed himself to save his family.
Even if Mark Madoff was not directly responsibility for his father’s massive fraud, still, for having worked in his father’s company and for bearing his name he was shunned from society.
Mark Madoff seems to have suffered because his father failed to understand the difference between shame and guilt.
I speculate that Bernard Madoff imagined that he was fulfilling his role as protector and provider. He was providing richly for his family and would protect them by refusing to implicate anyone else in his crimes. It must have felt like a moral act. It was his largest miscalculation.
He would take the fall and live out his days in prison. With him out of the way his family would be able to move on with their lives.
The guilt would be his and his alone. As it happens, guilt is not transferable. If you steal a goose you and you alone are punished. Your family does not bear any criminal culpability for your misdeed.
This is why guilt is a weak social sanction. A man like Bernard Madoff can imagine that he can pay for his crimes while still protecting his family.
Shame is the stronger sanction because it does not just affect the person; it affects the name. Shame is shared because reputation is held in common.
In some ways it feels unjust to punish, by shaming, people who were not even accomplices. Yet, for being affiliated with Madoff, and for having enjoyed the benefits that accrued to him from that affiliation, his family has also been subject to the most severe social opprobrium.
Shame is the more effective sanction. If you fear guilt, you also know that you can pay off your debt to society, with time, or even with your life. Guilt can become part of the cost of doing business.
If you fear shame, you know that your own punishment will pale in comparison to the pain experienced by your family. Your pride in protecting your family will end up being a delusion.
Thus, shame is the ultimate deterrent.
Reports from his prison suggest that Bernard Madoff was so anguished at his son’s death that he withdrew from all interactions with others. Could his son’s suicide have been the moment where he fully grasped what he had done, not just to himself, but to those he loved?
Did he see at that point that his plan had failed, not just because he had been caught-- surely, he knew that he would be caught at some time or other-- but because his ignominy has also been visited on his family, to the point where his eldest son no longer wanted to live with the Madoff name?
Mark Madoff found one way to save his own wife and children. He hung himself with a dog leash.