Monday, December 15, 2008

The Lipstick Building

The epicenter of what may be the largest Ponzi scheme in history was the 17th floor of the Lipstick Building, an oval red-granite building rising 34 floors above Third Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
--New York Times front page, 12/15/08

I didn't know they called it that when I moved to New York. I only knew that it was tall and very unusual in appearance and that it was two blocks south of my building on Third Avenue, and I needed a visual orientation object and that was it. When today's New York Times referred to it "The Lipstick Building" I knew immediately which building they meant.

In this building, Bernard Madoff perpetrated a multi-billion dollar scam that fooled some very prominent and fabulously wealthy people. Many of them were major donors to charities. Some of those charities were Jewish philanthropies, whose budgets had already been shredded by the financial crisis. Madoff himself was treasurer of the board of Yeshiva University. Talk about putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Some of these organizations will have to close their doors and others will be forced to make drastic cutbacks.

This morning when I passed the Lipstick Building, there was a sign on the sidewalk in front of it that said "Danger". It was making reference to the window washers up thirty stories or so, but it might well have been referring to the shenanigans taking place on the 17th floor. Danger, indeed.


Anonymous said...

While I can never get too much of the word shenanigans, I think that in the context of your post it doesn't fit in well, sounding a bit too Irish.

Arava said...

This is another heartbreaker. I just heard it was his sons who turned him in.

Leslie said...

I checked on, and this is what I found:

origin unknown

1: a devious trick used especially for an underhand purpose2 a: tricky or questionable practices or conduct —usually used in plural b: high-spirited or mischievous activity —usually used in plural

Definition 1 - a devious trick for an underhand purpose - certainly sounds like what Madoff did, and a scoundrel is a scoundrel, whether he is Irish, Jewish or anything else.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know there was such a building as the Lipstick Building. There may have been shenanigans that were uncovered, but what about the shenanigans that were missed?

Anonymous said...

Leslie, thanks for going the extra mile on the definition, and, as I said, I love the word. Respectfully, I suggest that in this context I think the right word might be shtupping.