DeGraff, Madoff associates linked


A connection with convicted swindler Bernie Madoff has surfaced in the financial storm that engulfed former Las Vegas nightlife executive Scott DeGraff.

When DeGraff was gathering investors for his ambitious Aspen-Snowmass hospitality project, he turned to David Blumenfeld, DeGraff's roommate at the University of Michigan.

DeGraff obtained a $3 million loan from Blumenfeld's lending company, D & R's Aspen Retirement Plan LLC, about three years ago, about the same time as the recession hit and the Madoff scandal surfaced.

When DeGraff failed to repay the money, D & R won a lawsuit in October 2010 that ordered DeGraff to make good on the $3 million plus $941,000 in interest.

It was among a series of Aspen business deals that soured for DeGraff, who was found dead Thanksgiving morning in a car inside a garage. His death was ruled a suicide from carbon monoxide poisoning and asphyxiation, according to Pitkin County Deputy Coroner Eric Hansen.

D & R investors included Blumenfeld, his father, New York real estate developer Edward Blumenfeld, David's brother Brad Blumenfeld and Richard J. Mack.

Edward Blumenfeld, a close friend and major investor with Madoff, lost a fortune, according to published reports. In early 2008, about eight months before the Wall Street crash, Madoff and Blumenfeld bought a $24 million private jet.

Madoff's alleged $50 billion money management swindle claimed many casualties, including his son Mark Madoff who committed suicide a year ago on the second anniversary of his father's arrest.

CHARLIE HUSTLE

Pete Rose hasn't stopped hustling.

He never met former President George W. Bush but he has a personal letter from him, thanks to some quick thinking.

Rose told Yahoo!Sports.com last week that he was signing autographs about four years ago at Field of Dreams (Forum Shops at Caesars) when he asked a fan what he did for a living.

"I guard Air Force One," said the man.

Bush would have been proud of Rose's on-the-spot, um, "strategery."

"Will you do me a favor and, if I give you a signed jersey, will you give it to the President?" Rose asked the man. "So I signed it, I gave it to him and I got a real nice letter on United States of America stationery from him, from George W. Bush, thanking me."

Rose recently moved his autograph signing business from The Mirage to Antiquities at the Forum Shops.

SIGHTINGS

Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, in the audience at Jim Gaffigan's stand-up comedy show at the Terry Fator Theatre at The Mirage on Friday. Later, Hilfiger and his wife, Dee, dined at La Cave (Wynn). Also at La Cave and later at XS (Encore): Brothers Maksim and Val Chmerkovskiy of "Dancing With the Stars." They just finished Season 13, with Maxsim paired with Hope Solo and Val with George Clooney's ex, model/actress Elisabetta Canalis. ... At the grand opening of Catfish Alley restaurant Saturday in the Hawaiian Marketplace on the Strip: Harry Elston of Friends of Distinction, Bubba Knight of the Pips, LaMonte McLemore of the Fifth Dimension, J.D. Nicholas of the Commodores, actor Richard Roundtree, and Las Vegas headliner Earl Turner. ... Celebrity chef and restaurateur Mario Batali, at CRSVR, the sneaker boutique inside The Cosmopolitan, on Saturday with his two kids. ... Former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, taking in the Rebels' victory over Southern Cal on Friday and their upset win over North Carolina on Saturday at The Orleans.

THE PUNCH LINE

"Ooh, Wal-Mart wine!" -- From David Letterman's Top Ten Things Overheard At "The Late Show" Thanksgiving Dinner

Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.