Author revisits simple life after Madoff fraud

Mon May 24, 2010 8:40am EDT
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By Mark Egan

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Author John Robbins knows a thing or two about living a simple life -- he's had millions and lived without millions, not once, but twice.

At 21, Robbins walked away from his family's Baskin-Robbins ice cream business and fortune and spent the subsequent decade living largely off the land in a tiny cabin on Salt Spring Island off the coast of British Columbia.

Robbins became wealthy writing best-selling books telling Americans how to live simply and healthily. He earned millions of dollars, which were then stolen by Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff.

Robbins lost 95 percent of his net worth after investing with Madoff via a friend who pooled their money and who was also defrauded.

"It was December 8, 2008 -- I will never forget the date when I got that call that our life savings had gone," Robbins, 62, told Reuters in an interview to promote his new book. "I was absolutely terrified and horrified."

Robbins had remortgaged his home to maximize his investment with Madoff, who is now serving a 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to defrauding investors of as much as $65 billion.

Robbins tries to live simply. He says his millions were saved for retirement and for large medical bills for his two grandchildren, who were born extremely premature and have special needs as a result.

After an initial bout of depression and anger, Robbins returned to what he does best -- writing self-help books.   Continued...