NEW YORK (CBS/AP) — Bernie Madoff, the infamous architect of an epic securities swindle that burned thousands of investors, outfoxed regulators and earned him a 150-year prison term, died behind bars early Wednesday. He was 82.

Madoff’s death at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, was confirmed by his lawyer and the Bureau of Prisons.

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Last year, Madoff’s lawyers unsuccessfully asked a court to release him from prison during the coronavirus pandemic, saying he suffered from end-stage renal disease and other chronic medical conditions.

His death was due to natural causes, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

For decades, Madoff enjoyed an image as a self-made financial guru whose Midas touch defied market fluctuations.

A former chairman of the Nasdaq stock market, he attracted a devoted legion of investment clients — from Florida retirees to celebrities such as film director Steven Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon and Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.

Bernie Madoff leaves Federal Court on January 14, 2009 in New York. (Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Harry Markopolos, a fraud investigator from Boston, figured out Madoff’s scheme. Markopolos was working for a Boston investment firm in the late 1990’s when he said his boss wanted him to reverse-engineer Madoff’s trading strategy and revenue streams so the firm could duplicate Madoff’s results.

“It took me five minutes to know that it was a fraud. It took me another almost four hours of mathematical modeling to prove that it was a fraud, “Markopolos told 60 Minutes in 2009.

In May 2000, Markopolos took his suspicions about Madoff to the Boston office of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He sent information on Madoff to the SEC repeatedly until 2008 when something was finally done.

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Harry Markopolos testifies during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on February 4, 2009. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Madoff’s investment advisory business was officially exposed in 2008 as a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that wiped out people’s fortunes and ruined charities and foundations. He became so hated he had to wear a bulletproof vest to court.

Madoff pleaded guilty in March 2009 to securities fraud and other charges, saying he was “deeply sorry and ashamed.”

After several months living under house arrest at his $7 million Manhattan penthouse apartment, he was led off to jail in handcuffs to scattered applause from angry investors in the courtroom.

“He stole from the rich. He stole from the poor. He stole from the in between. He had no values,” former investor Tom Fitzmaurice told the judge at the sentencing. “He cheated his victims out of their money so he and his wife … could live a life of luxury beyond belief.”

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin showed no mercy, sentencing Madoff to the maximum 150 years in prison.

Both of Madoff’s sons have died, Andrew from cancer at age 48 and Mark from suicide at age 46 in 2010. Madoff’s wife, Ruth, is still living.

The Ponzi scheme is named after Charles Ponzi who was convicted of mail fraud after bilking thousands of people out of $10 million in the Boston area between 1919 and 1920.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo and Tom Hays contributed to this report.)