And yet more benjamins go up in smoke. Earlier this afternoon, Columbia confirmed a Bloomberg News report that it had “uncovered” a $3 million loss in its law school endowment tied to Bernie Madoff. Madoff is currently out on bail for what many are calling the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
The $3 million is part of a 1980 gift to the law school from an unnamed alumnus who retained the right to decide how the money was invested. Columbia spokesman Robert Hornsby told Bloomberg that “only in rare circumstances in the past, and after approval by the university’s gift review committee, has Columbia accepted such a gift to be retained in another form of investment.” As for the larger “merged endowment pool,” under which most gifts are invested, Columbia has not discovered any further losses. According to Hornsby, Columbia also does not have any funds managed by Ezra Merkin‘s fund Ascot Partners.
It is unknown how much of the law school endowment is represented by $3 million, as Columbia does not break down the endowment by school. Regardless, Columbia can now join the club of schools defrauded by Madoff, which also includes New York Law School ($2 million), Bard ($3 million), Yeshiva ($14.5 million), Tufts ($20 million), and NYU ($24 million).