Spoils of Madoff's lavish life on auction block

A 10.5-carat diamond ring, as well as everyday items like underwear and slippers are sold by the US Department of Justice.

November 11, 2010 09:05
3 minute read.
Bernie Madoff's slippers

madoff slippers 424x319. (photo credit: US Dept. of Justice)


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NEW YORK — Jailed financier Bernard Madoff led a lavish lifestyle until his downfall. The disgraced financier left homes filled with luxury goods — and everyday items like underwear, slippers and T-shirts, all monogrammed to fit his ego.

Thousands of belongings from the New York City penthouse Madoff shared with his wife are headed for auction at a Manhattan hotel this Saturday.

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Federal marshals staged a preview Wednesday of items seized from the apartment and the Madoffs' Long Island beachhouse — from bed linens, clothing, cookware and luggage to intimate items like used socks, cuticle scissors and even bottles of shampoo. There also were artworks, more than a dozen luxury watches, and antique furniture.

"And he loved shoes and spent a lot of money on 250 pairs — some never worn," said auctioneer Bob Sheehan, who will conduct the auction for the US Marshals Service that seized Madoff's properties and ordered his wife to leave.

Proceeds from the 489 lots with an estimated pre-sale worth of $1.5 million will go to the US Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture Fund to compensate the convicted swindler's victims. An auction last year of Madoff's property raised $1 million.

The most valuable lot in Saturday's auction is Ruth Madoff's 10.5-carat diamond ring, with an estimated value of $300,000 to $350,000. But it's hardly the most interesting item — or the most revealing — from the daily life of the pyramid scheme king who became a symbol of greed and deceit on Wall Street.

The trader cherished the winning bull in every form — as statues, paintings and even names for his boats ("Bull," ''Sitting Bull" and "Little Bull").

The man who deceived thousands of investors also collected masks that were scattered around his home. On display Wednesday at Brooklyn's Navy Yard were three wooden masks with Native American motifs, all stained red. They're expected to fetch $210 to $240. A leather bull foot stool — including a tail that had fallen off — is valued at $250 to $360.

Bidders also will get a chance to buy his boxer shorts, T-shirts, and Italian black velveteen slippers bearing the initials "BLM" in gold embroidery. The lot with the slippers is valued at $75 to $110, and includes Ruth Madoff's monogrammed shirt. The boxers come with a pair of silk Armani pants and dozens of pairs of socks, in a lot estimated to be worth $960 to $1,370.

Madoff's world tanked on Dec. 11, 2008, when he was arrested and charged with running a multibillion dollar pyramid scheme.

He quickly admitted the scheme and investigators said that he may never have traded securities for his customers and instead used billions of dollars in cash from new investors to pay old ones, cheating charities, celebrities and institutional investors. Prosecutors estimate he defrauded at least 3,000 investors.

Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud charges and was sentenced to 150 years in prison. Now 72, he is serving time at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.

Saturday's auction at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers will be the last one in New York of Madoff belongings. A third and final auction is to be held in Florida to sell off items from a Palm Beach home that sold for more than $5.5 million.

The Manhattan penthouse went for $8 million. Also previously sold were his yacht and boats.

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