More Open House news

I do not travel with a bodyguard, yet, but this Walter Noel issue is certainly stirring up some passion in town. I was rebuked today by a friend of mine, a man I respect highly and like very much, for spreading gossip about his very good friend Walt. I admire anyone standing up for a friend and I regret offending this man, but it wasn’t much later on the tour that I ran into another friend who admitted that her own retirement plan had been blown out of the water by her decision to entrust Noel with a good portion of her savings. She didn’t seem to think as much of Walt as my other friend does. In fact, the two of them could have a fascinating conversation.

I think Noel is going to prove a huge disappointment to those who believe in him and who feel that he was an innocent victim of Bernie Madoff. The story reported yesterday by Caroline Waxler in Fortune detailing how Noel and Fairfield Greenwich switched auditors three times in three years, moving to ever-more lax inspections each time, shows more, even, than the deliberate wilful blindness I initially suspected. It seems to me that Noel knew something was wrong at least three years ago and began to actively hide the problem. That’s not what good friends do.


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30 responses to “More Open House news

  1. CEA

    However much your friend likes Walt, and however much you respect him, his thinking has to be:

    1. Walt is a victim and lost money with Madoff
    2. Walt did not see what many other professional managers (who did not invest with Madoff) did
    3. Therefore, Walter is either:
    a. Not very smart
    b. Not very competent

    Take your choice.

    Not recognizing that Bernie’s strategy would have to utilize more options than are in existence, not noticing that Bernie’s advertised-on-a-matchbook accountants were far too small to be auditing a $50 billion firm, etc. etc.

    Is that, again: lack of smarts, or lack of competence? (or both)?

    Sandy Koufax is a victim. Walter Noel was not.

  2. Stanwich

    If you need a body guard let me know, I know people who know people who know people.

    A fraud is a fraud and Walter Noel maybe a nice person but it says nothing about his ability (or should I say willingness) to provide even the most basic investment advice.

    Let me ask you this, does your friend like Walter Noel because he knows him from the club or does he like him because he knows how great of a business person he is? I bet your friend is just being nice to his friend, the same kind of niceness that got so many people screwed in the first place (“Oh, Madoff, he is a pillar of the community….blah, blah, blah”).

    Let’s see if your friend sticks by Noel after they start handing down the indictments or after the civil suits start to come to trial.

  3. Peg

    Christopher – I admire your honesty. And, to quote an old saw – isn’t it really the best policy?

    I bet there are a hell of a lot of folks out there that wish someone had been honest about what was going on with Madoff and his willing executioners….

  4. Sambone


    I love your website/blog! Keep up the good work. Now I am down in the south and some of the houses that you talk about and show would sell for about $300,000.00 max. My question is since the bonus’s for the Wall Streeters are getting clipped pretty bad, do you think that the huge prices in Greenwich will come down over time, because who can afford them?

    • christopherfountain

      Sambone – there’s no one who made money like the Wall Street folks – they pulled away from the other professionals in the 80s, soared into the stratosphere in the 90s and kept going in 2000-2008. Then the music stopped. So they had a grand time for 25 years or so and Greenwich prices followed and depended on their success. If those predicting the return to norlmacy for Wall Street salaries are correct, and I see no reason to doubt it, then prices will have to follow them back down. because, as you point out, there’s no one else able to pay the prices houses have been getting here.

  5. CEA

    I wonder how vociferously your friend would be defending Walter had he lost money with FGG.

    If one person who lost money through FGG came forward and said “Walter was as much a victim as I am” – then, maybe, that defense would mean something.

  6. Three lawyers on Mr. Noel's tail

    Mr. Noel probably doesn’t even read this stuff. But the lawyers do. He will face the Court’s music soon and he will feel that pain, not yours. Have a heart sometimes. We are all God’s creation and end up in the same place despite what others may think. There is only one Judge in this universe.

  7. Paco

    The reaction of your first friend, chastising you for disparaging Noel, reminds me of those news reports about someone convicted of a disgusting crime against children or a gruesome murder and yet all of the perp’s neighbors, relatives and golf buddies prattle on about how wonderful the perp is and how it can’t possibly be true because the perp is a such a pillar of the community.

    Sames with idiotic statements to the effect that Madoff has been so generous to charities without thinking through the fact that Madoff was not generous but was, in fact, just transferring stolen money from one party to another (including, perhaps stealing from the same charities he was supposedly supporting).

  8. Blind Brook

    It’s going to be a domino effect: Noel, Sra. Noel, Noel sons’ in law, etc., but wait until it gets to a real pillar of business like Douglass whose son worked there and whose Clearstream cleared the supposed trades. There are a large number of the so called “establishment” sitting behind the hedges thinking that this was a scam from the first moment Sra. Noel called Laura McCloy for a tennis date. Wait until Vanity Fair comes out and and indictments start.

  9. What happened to Noel suing Madoff?

    Fairfield Greenwich Group on Dec 15 2008 vowed to go after Madoff. So where’s the lawsuit?


    Congrats Blind Brook,

    Yeah, somebody else sees the Douglass family as a part of the Noel sham. You get a prize!

    Clearstream and prior name Cedel had a hand (that’s Robert Douglass of Pecksland Rd), all over the Fairfield Sentry funds in Europe. And Mr. Noel hired Andrew Douglass in Sales & Marketing, like his niece in Rio, Bianca Haegler to do some of the dirty work.

    Connecting the dots already.Do we need a jury?

  11. Hiram

    Paco hits the nail on the head. We should save our trust for those we know intimately, not golf pals, neighbors, and beloved priests.

  12. Inagua

    Until Walter Noel refunds his unearned Madoff fees to his victims, he must be considered a man without honor, despite the veneer of sophistication and respectability that he affects, and which seems to count with some of Christopher’s Greenwich friends.

  13. Anonymous

    Rumor has it that if you want to join RHC these days, all one needs to do is fill out the Common Application, send a check and head out to the first tee. Sponsors, seconders and support letters no longer required.

  14. Greenwich Gal

    Please explain the connection of Robert Douglass and his company to the Noel scandal. I don’t understand and am not familiar with who he is and what he does and why it is suspect. Thanks – just trying to keep up!

  15. Walter

    Yes, it’s me. And I am getting a kick out of these replies. Luckily, I have Alzheimer’s and can’t remember what you people are complaining about. Anyway off to Musket. Mustique? Mastick? Oh never mind. Can any of you kind folks drop off sugar cubes for the 5 foals while I am gone? See you all in the spring when this all blows over. Drinks at the Round Hill Club on me.

  16. anonymous

    You are brilliant.

  17. anonymous

    oh, and I forgot – and brave.

  18. Douglass Family Connection to Noel

    Dear Greenwich Gal,

    Walter hired all friends and family at FGG. Mainly to keep guarded the trust of secrets-like gee Madoff is a sham but if I pay you enough or if you are my BFF, you won’t spill the beans.

    People who helped Noel were well paid. And Madoff paid well to keep the sham going.

    The Noel plan over the last 3-4 years was to dump this FFG company on somebody else, sell out, before the toothpaste was out of the tube. Didn’t work out though. They were “shocked”. Sure. I am “shocked” that they were “shocked”.

    The connections over 30 years between Noel and Douglass are strong (like family). Most doubt Mr. Noel could pull this off by himself.

    Mr. Douglass ran Cedel, later Clearstream, from 1994-2004 and remains a Clearstream advisor.
    This company cleared most of the FGG trades for Fairfield Sentry Fund going to Madoff. Look up the history of the Clearstream company (start with wikipedia). In past, Clearstream has been accused of sheltering tons of wealthy client money in Luxembourg and other European countries.

    Mr. Noel even hired Robert Douglass son Andrew to help in Sales & Marketing. Most say what the heck does Andrew know about hedge funds? Trophy job at FGG? A few days after the scandal broke, no more Andrew Douglass on the FGG website. Just like Bianca Haegler (Monica’s side of family in Rio) disappeared.

    Mr. Noel rewards people who can keep a lid on things.

    With enough time, we guess the connection will pop out. Douglass has powerful friends to keep things from being uncovered. But by the look of things after 8 weeks, things are unraveling beyond expectation.

    Some hands are dirty here. Most people connected to this story have presumed white gloves. However, with time, many prominent people will get tied up in this one. The Titanic story for this century.

    This is all a guess you realize. That is the nature of gossip. We are just chatting around the cyber fireplace here. Your guess is as good as mine. But this story is stranger than fiction.

    Many things about the Noel’s just don’t make sense or add up.

    Like, why does Walter’s best friend Robert Douglass not stand up to defend his good friend publicly like Mr. Ball and Mr. McCloy? Because Douglass is probably in on this too.

    Douglass is hiding behind his “good” reputation like Madoff did.

    Hey, wait and see. Or ask Douglass to his face about his involvement (hiding Noel assets) like someone got in Chris’s face today about Walter.

  19. Douglass Connecton

    Andrew Douglass was on the Fairfield Greenwich Group payroll, Greenwich Gal.

    Robert Douglass is a BFF of Walter Noel.

    Clearstream is good at hiding money. Walter has a lot of money to hide.

    Mr. Douglass ran Cedel, later Clearstream.

    A lot of Money makes people do a lot of bad things, like hiding money from the IRS.

    GREED is GOOD, getting CAUGHT is BAD.

  20. Flaubert's bear

    OK, that does it: Cheever/Marquand/Auchincloss-marinade PLUS Henry James. Genuflecting from the north.

  21. pulled up in OG

    Tried to click through to

    How much, Walt?

  22. Greenwich Gal

    Thanks for explaining. It is hard to imagine that Noel did not have any idea of what was going on. As you said – it is the Titanic and we can only see the tip of the iceberg.

  23. Save this memorable page

    Time will tell Greenwich Gal if this hunch is right. Looking at the traffic to this site from Europe looking in on our local blog comments, I think we are warm, very warm, if not getting hotter on the true Noel – Douglass story here.

  24. Robert Douglass helps Walter Noel hide the salami

    When you shake Walter’s piggy bank, you’ll find a few pennies left. Ask Robert where Walter’s real dough is hidden. It’s not at Chase. Check Europe. Finding the Noel cash will be a game of Marco Polo. We should hire Marcopoulos.

  25. Will the real Noel & Douglass resumes please stand up

    I love reading the bios these fraudsters put up for the public to read. Hang out at the Round Hill Club since 1970 and you will hear plenty of “half-truths” if not down right scoundrel lies from Noel and Douglass.

    Douglass loves to tell the world he was Vice-Chairman of Chase under Rockefeller. He never says in public that his next boss at Chase after Rocky left, Thomas G. Lebreque, “demoted the patrician banker Douglass” to one of six reporting vice-presidents. Douglass ended his career at Chase opening up regional Chase banks in a ceremonial post.

    As for Noel, he loves to print he was a senior vice-president for international banking at Chemical Bank. The truth is he was dumped for making bad loans that never got repaid from South American institutions.

    Both have wives, Linda and Monica, who love to promote their men. With egg on their faces, they had to put on a new face. Did both women have plastic surgery?

    The men have chips on their shoulders for never making it to the “top CEO” jobs at their banks.
    They would do anything to be rich.

    Walter is paying the price now. A gambler says Robert will soon being talking to lawyers soon also.
    Hang out at the Club, it is filled with characters.

  26. Inagua

    The case for Walt being a knowing paticipant in the fraud is weak. It is much more likely that Walt was just a salesman who didn’t understand his product, although he sure knew how to charge for it.

    George Ball now says of Walt, “He’s a very decent person, very caring person, perhaps naïve in some ways but far from a fool.” Ball is only half right — Walt may be naive about investing, but he is far from being caring or decent. If he cared for his victims or had a shred of decency he would refund his unearned Madoff fees to them.

    Also, Walt may have lied about his Madoff relationship. He said that he invested in Madoff along side his victims, but his name does not appear on the Madoff client list.

    Walt is a greedy parasite without honor or shame. His only accomplishment was to flaunt the riches that came from being the top salesman for the World’s Greatest Ponzi Scheme.

    Why hasn’t the Round Hill Club expelled this repellent creature?

  27. greenmtnpunter

    We need an update on the dramatis personae: Is the John J McCloy mentioned the same John J McCloy who is the retired investment banker going back to JFK days? I have this MSM-driven image of John J McCloy as a very distinguished international investment banker and public servant, just loaded with that favorite ingredient of all liberals: “Gravitas”. The George Ball you mention is not the former Secretary of State, is it? Thought he must be dead by now. Yup, if so, Walt had some real long ball hitters for pals. And they are still his loyal pals? May say something about loyalty but not much else? This whole saga is going to make a blockbuster book/movie etc for some enterprising writer.

  28. Blind Brook

    Mercedes Ruhl can play Monica. Or Sigorney. Micky Rouke can play Noel. Or Ian McClelland. Or Larry Hagman. Mary Ann Mobley can play Missy. Joan van Ark can play Linda D. And the Pussy Cat Dolls can play the 5 girls. Joel Schumacker can direct. Or Tod Solenz. But the best is yet to come.

  29. Clear on Clearstream

    Before people start going off on Clearstream (owned by Deutsche Borse) and for that matter Euroclear (owned by J.P. Morgan Chase), its worth understanding how these companies operate. These are clearing agencies that clear millions of transactions a year. Party A provides the security and Party B provides the capital while the clearing agency effects the transaction as 3rd party for both A and B. Saying that Clearstream or Euroclear played a role in the Madoff fraud is like saying the NYSE played a role in the WorldCom accounting scandal simply because WorldCom’s share traded over their exchange. There are plenty of people at the Madoff Organization and elsewhere that will be rightfully prosecuted for their crimes, but your way off mark on this one.