The Biggest Loser?

So Forbes is out with a new list of the 400 Richest Americans, and naturally–since last year was an unmitigated economic cataclysm–everyone is having a good time looking at the piles of money these guys lost.

But the most mysterious losses are way down the list at #371, where Jeffry Picower makes his Forbes 400 debut. Forbes says he’s worth an even $1 billion, but the magazine admits that number is just a wild guess and that Mr. Picower is “likely worth billions more.”

Irving Picard, the trustee wrangling the remainder of Bernie Madoff’s gains, seems to think the answer is closer to $7 billion. In a court filing today, Mr. Picard says Mr. Picower withdrew $7.2 billion dollars from his accounts with Mr. Madoff, or about eight times more than Mr. Madoff himself claimed to be worth when it all fell apart.

At $7.2 billion, Mr. Picower would be way up at 32nd on Forbes‘ list, ahead of Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, and Charles Schwab. Except that Mr. Picower has rather modest assets for someone who withdrew such a princely sum.

Where did all that money go? No one knows, though ProPublica tried their best to track it down.

The Biggest Loser?