Madoff Brings Down the Mets

Sources with direct knowledge of the 74-year-old Wilpon’s finances said that even if an angel investor took the embattled owner up on his offer to buy 25 percent of the team for $200 million, it wouldn’t put a dent in his potential Madoff liabilities.

Bernie Madoff may be flipping through a half-year-old copy of Grifter’s Digest in his cell this morning but the ripple effects of his crime are now bringing down NY Mets owner Fred Wilpon.  The New York Post is reporting that the owner of New York’s junior varsity baseball team is facing a billion dollar lawsuit unsealed by Irving Picard, the bankruptcy trustee in the Madoff case.  Picard has evidence that several business associates and employees informed Wilpon that the returns he was getting and using to fund both the Mets and his real estate empire were phony and impossible based on the math.

Wilpon ignored these warnings as he withdrew hundreds of millions of dollars from his hundreds of Madoff Securities accounts.  Now he’s going to lose his team…

Wilpon’s Mets empire has three components: the team, Citi Field and SportsNet NY, the broadcasting arm. Here’s a glance at his debts:

The Mets
Owes:
$430M in debt
Pays: $30M a year in interest

Citi Field
Owes:
$700M for construction
Pays: $50M a year to city

SportsNet NY
Owes:
$450M in loans
Pays: $20M in interest

Profits: $100M a year; Wilpon gets $65M

Total debt

$1.58B

(Wilpon’s exposure in lawsuits ranges from $300M to $1B)

Reporters Josh Kosman and Chuck Bennett conclude that this “partial stake” nonsense is about to become a full-blown sale of both the Mets and Citi Field – no one will buy in and partner with Wilpon for fear of his declaring protective bankruptcy, Wilpon also can’t settle because he doesn’t have the cash.

Source:

Wilpon’s Losing His Grip on the Mets (NYP)

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