Call it life imitating “must-see TV.”
A man victimized by Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is asking a court to rewrite his divorce decree to adjust the amount given to his wife.
According to The New York Times,attorney Steve Simkin is attempting to use the Bernard Madoff fraud case to renegotiate his divorce contract, which was signed in 2006.
It is an unusual case in that divorce papers approved by the courts are almost always considered final, as a way, in part, to allow both parties closure and allow them to move on with their lives.
The Timesreports Simkin, an attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York, wants the courts to allow him to negotiate a new divorce agreement, not just because he lost a small fortune in the Madoff Ponzi scheme, but he and his wife both invested in Madoff (left) when they were married and there is a long legal precedent for nullifying a contract if both parties made what the courts call a "mutual mistake."
Simkin's ex-wife, Laura Blank, and her legal team argue Simkin chose to invest in Madoff and, as fate would have it, lost money that has nothing to do with her.
Simkin argues both parties made the mistake of assuming there was an account in their names at Madoff's firm.
“To make it easy, let’s say they had $20 million in assets at the time of their divorce,” says AdvisorOne legal analyst Robert Bloink, a professor of tax for the Graduate Program of International Tax and Financial Services at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. “Let’s say $12 million of that was attributed to asset appreciation in the Madoff accounts when really it wasn’t nearly that high. If they each took $10 million based on an amount that was never really there, and his portion was the portion invested in the Madoff accounts, then that’s the reason for his requesting a ‘do-over.’ He’s arguing they were both defrauded even though only he was invested in the accounts.”
Bloink doesn’t believe the argument has merit, as Simkin is still trying to benefit from “the wisdom of his ex-wife’s choices.”
“Ultimately, I can’t imagine the courts would revise the decision,” he says.
In a case of life imitating art, a much ballyhooed 2009 reunion of the original Seinfeld characters on the HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm centered on the character of George, who made millions by inventing an iPhone app called the iToilet, which supposedly identifies the nearest public toilet.
George's wife left him before he lost his fortune in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. George attempts to get back with his wife, who received half of George's money and wants a prenuptial agreement to ensure he's not looking to reconcile soley for the money.