Money Made Off With

The president of the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has shown up on a 162-page list of apparent customers of accused Ponzi-scheme swindler Bernie Madoff. The revocable trust of John Todd Figi, who built a small candle company into Figi Giftware, which he sold in 2005, is among thousands on the list, filed last week in a New York bankruptcy court.

A member of the museum board since 2003, Figi was elected president in 2007. Four years ago he and wife Jake gave $1 million to help fund construction of the museum’s downtown branch at the Santa Fe Depot. According to a museum news release at the time, Figi’s extensive personal collection includes works by Roberto Matta, Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Orozco, Wifredo Lam, Fernando Botero, Mario Carreño, Joaquín Torres-García, Salvador Dalí, Antoni Gaudí, and Henry Moore. He once told the La Jolla Light that his greatest accomplishment was “starting as a hippie with an idea and building it into one of the largest, most creative and respected gift companies in the country.”

Others on the Madoff customer list, which was compiled for the firm’s court-appointed bankruptcy trustee, include ex–L.A. Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, actor John Malkovich, CNN’s Larry King, and New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg, as well as the estate of the late John Denver.

AlixPartners LLP, which produced the list, said it relied on records from Madoff’s company and various communications from alleged customers who contacted authorities. Those on the list were sent claims forms to be sent back for possible $500,000 advances from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, established by Congress to help victims of investment frauds. Figi could not be reached for comment.

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