(Bloomberg) -- Walter Noel, who ran the the largest fund to invest with Bernie Madoff and made more than $1 billion in resulting client fees for his firm, has died. He was 93. 

He died on Dec. 15 at Yemanja, his family’s property on Mustique, a private Caribbean island, according to his death certificate. The cause was complications due to Alzheimer’s disease. His family has made no public announcement of his death. 

Noel founded what would become Fairfield Greenwich Group in 1983 to help foreign investors put money into US hedge funds. He was introduced to Madoff by the father-in-law of his partner, Jeffrey Tucker, in 1989 and made his first $1.5 million investment later that year. 

By the time Madoff was arrested in December 2008 for running history’s biggest Ponzi scheme, the firm had about $7 billion invested with him or roughly half the firm’s total assets.

Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison after pleading guilty to his crimes. He died in prison in 2021 at age 82. 

Madoff charged no fees to Fairfield Greenwich and other so-called feeder funds, meaning that those firms kept all the money they charged clients on what would eventually be proven to be fictitious returns. In Fairfield Greenwich’s case, that was 20% of any profit, and in later years a 1% management fee on assets.  

With the Madoff investment spinning off a return of at least 10% annually, Fairfield Greenwich made more than $1 billion in fees, according to a July 2010 complaint filed against Fairfield Greenwich’s entities and executives by Irving Picard, the trustee assigned to recoup money for investors. Noel personally received $114 million in partnership distributions between 2002 and 2008, the court document said, a sum that did not include salary or bonuses.  

Picard alleged that the executives of Fairfield Greenwich knew or should have known that Madoff was operating a Ponzi scheme and said their relationship was a “de facto partnership.” Picard’s litigation is ongoing. No criminal charges have ever been brought against these parties.

Fairfield Greenwich has said it was a victim of Madoff’s duplicity, and at the time of his arrest, the firm and its partners had more than $60 million invested with Madoff.

Noel, his Brazilian-born wife, Monica, and their five daughters led an increasingly lavish lifestyle from their base in leafy Greenwich, Connecticut. As Fairfield Greenwich assets ballooned, so did the number of vacation homes. In addition to the estate in Mustique and their mansion in Greenwich, they had places in New York City, Palm Beach and Southampton, New York.  

Four of his five daughters wed men who later worked for Fairfield Greenwich. The daughters and their children were photographed by Bruce Weber for a 2002 Vanity Fair piece entitled Golden in Greenwich that described Noel’s offspring as the anti-Hiltons.  

Corina, the eldest, married Colombian-born Andres Piedrahita, who led the European and Latin American businesses, working out of London and Madrid. Lisina, the second oldest, wed Yanko Della Schiava, based in Lugano, Switzerland. He was responsible for selling Fairfield’s offshore funds in Southern Europe.

The fourth oldest, Alix, married Philip Toub, son of Swiss shipping magnate Said Toub. He marketed the group’s funds in Brazil and the Middle East. Marisa, the youngest, married Matthew Brown, who worked for the firm in New York. Ariane, the middle daughter, married a private equity investor who was not involved in the family business.  

Executive recruiter Russell S. Reynolds, a longtime friend of the Noels, told Vanity Fair that he saw Walter and Monica at the Round Hill Club in Greenwich the day after Madoff’s arrest. “Walter was shaking he was so upset,” Reynolds told the magazine.

Walter Miller Noel Jr. was born on June 19, 1930, to Walter Sr. and Corinne Travis Noel and grew up in Nashville. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and got a master’s degree in economics and a law degree from Harvard University. 

He spent his early career as a consultant with Arthur D. Little in Boston and Lagos, Nigeria. 

He married the former Monica Haegler in 1962 in Rio de Janeiro, according to the couple’s wedding announcement in the Tennessean. 

Noel worked in private banking at Bahag Banking in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Citibank before joining Chemical Bank, where he headed the international private banking group. When he was in his early 50s, he left the bank to set up what would become Fairfield Greenwich. 

Noel is survived by his wife, his five daughters, 20 grandchildren and two great-granchildren.  

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