The New York Court of Appeals ruled today that a Bernie Madoff victim can’t redefine the terms of his divorce on account of his losses to Madoff’s fraud. Steven Simkin and Laura Blank, when married, invested $5.4 million in Madoff’s business together. The terms of their 2006 divorce settlement totalling $13.5 million split all assets evenly. However, while Mr. Simkin elected to retain his stake in Madoff’s business in the divorce, Blank took her half in cash. Madoff turned himself in to police for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history just two years later. Meaning that Simkin lost his millions, while Blank was none the worse.
Simkin sued Blank to essentially redo the divorce settlement, which eventually reached New York’s highest court. His argument was that, since Madoff’s investment was fraudulent, he and Blank should split the losses evenly. Today, the court decided against it, citing the finality of divorce and warning that allowing the resettlement would set a dangerous precedent for divorce settlements and other contracts. While Simkin tried to argue that the Madoff account didn’t exist and so he shouldn’t be held accountable for his investment in it, the Court disagreed, saying that the account did exist, it was just illegal, and that Simkin could have taken out his money at any time, like his ex-wife did. In other words, they called him a sore loser.