Thu, Dec 25, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Investor who lost US$1.4bn to Madoff kills himself

AP , NEW YORK

He was a distinguished investor who traced his lineage to the French aristocracy, hobnobbed with members of European high society and sailed around the world on fancy yachts.

But after losing more than US$1 billion of his clients’ money to Bernard Madoff, Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet had enough. He locked the door of his Madison Avenue office and apparently swallowed sleeping pills and slashed his wrists with a box cutter, police said.

A security guard found his body on Tuesday morning, next to a garbage can placed to catch the blood.

The bloody scene marked a grisly turn in the Madoff scandal in which money managers and investors were ensnared in an alleged US$50 billion Ponzi scheme. De la Villehuchet is believed to have lost about US$1.4 billion to Madoff.

No suicide note was found, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said.

De la Villehuchet, 65, was an esteemed financier who tapped his upper-crust European connections to attract clients. It was not immediately clear how he knew Madoff or who his clients were.

He grew increasingly subdued after the Madoff scandal broke, drawing suspicion among janitors at his office on Monday night when he demanded that they be out of there by 7pm.

His death came as swindled investors began looking for ways to recoup their losses. Funds that lost big to Madoff are also facing investor lawsuits and backlash for failing to properly vet Madoff and overlooking red flags that could have steered them away. It’s not immediately known what kind of scrutiny de la Villehuchet was facing over his losses.

De la Villehuchet comes from rich French lineage, with the Magon part of his name referring to one of France’s most powerful families. The former chairman and chief executive of Credit Lyonnais Securities USA was also known as a keen sailor who regularly participated in regattas and was a member of the New York Yacht Club.

He is survived by his wife, Claudine. They had no children.

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