When George Costanza lost it all to Bernie Madoff by the Forward

When George Costanza lost it all to Bernie Madoff

Image by Getty Images

It was more than a great idea. It was more than a couple million dollars.

Of the many victims of Bernard L. Madoff, the Ponzi scheme mastermind who died in prison April 14, was a visionary entrepreneur: George Costanza, whose app, iToilet, directed its user via global positioning technology to the nearest acceptable public toilet anywhere in the world. Or so runs the plot of the fictional “Seinfeld” reunion.

In Season 7 of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” which aired in 2009, the year of Madoff’s conviction, we see the closest thing we’ll ever get to an encore from the cast of “Seinfeld.” In the show within the show, we catch up with the core quartet over a decade later and learn that George’s finances plummeted after investing with Madoff.

“Why did you have to give it all to that crook Madoff?” Jerry asks George of his lost iToilet fortune.

Kramer piles on: “How could you be so fiscally irresponsible?”

It gets a laugh, but of all the things we can make fun of George for, this is really low on the list. Many lost their livelihoods to Madoff’s scheming. In hindsight, it’s easy to go after George for opening his wallet, but that doesn’t mean it always looked like bad judgment.

Thousands of investors — many of them elderly, not all of them rich — yielded their savings to Madoff. A number of legacy institutions were tied to his enterprise and if they lost money, they also lost innocent employees. George may have been capable of falling for an upstart conman, but that was never Madoff’s game — the guy operated the largest Ponzi Scheme in history. You don’t get a 150-year sentence if you’re not convincing.

But that’s just the twisted logic of “Seinfeld,” where a toilet detector (who knows how that would even work) is a stroke of genius, and trusting a guy who made people money for a very long time makes you a putz.

George deserves ridicule for his entire way of being — an id-driven existence dictated by warped social rules. He’s worthy of scorn for the ways he refuses to follow the trends of society. He shouldn’t be slammed for doing what so many others did, especially if he knew nothing about Madoff’s machinations. Knowing George, he was in the dark.

But, if we have to laugh at anyone’s losing money to Madoff, better for it to be George, who is fictional and would probably blow his millions on something stupid like wall-to-wall velvet anyway.


PJ Grisar

PJ Grisar

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture reporter. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.

When George Costanza lost it all to Bernie Madoff

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

When George Costanza lost it all to Bernie Madoff

Thank you!

This article has been sent!