Nov 15, 2009
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Madoff's spoils go under the hammer for 1 million dollars

Nov 15, 2009

NEW YORK, Nov 14, 2009 (AFP) - A treasure trove of spoils from Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff and his wife raked in nearly a million dollars Saturday 14 November in an auction to help pay back some of his victims.

Bernard Madoff. Photo : AFP

But the proceeds were still just a mere drop in the ocean compared to the 21.2 billion dollars investors are said to have lost in Madoff's grandiose scam that duped celebrities, charities and scores of ordinary people over several decades.

Ruth Madoff's pair of 14-carat Cartier diamond earrings went under the hammer for 70,000 dollars, just one in a flurry of sales to a packed room of bidders.

Some 200 lots, among them jewels, diamond-encrusted watches and a New York Mets baseball jacket emblazoned with Madoff's name, were seized from the couple's home and sold by adjudication at the Sheraton Hotel in New York.

For more than three hours, hundreds of people packed a room to place their bids, with others bidding online.

Madoff, a former Nasdaq chairman, had a weak spot for watches and the 40-some Rolex, Cartier, Blancpain, Muller, Bulgari, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet he and his wife had stocked fetched up to 65,000 dollars each.

The blue satin Mets jacket bearing his name in orange launched a bidding war on the floor, far surpassing its low estimate of 500 dollars before selling for 14,500 dollars to an online bidder.

The proceeds were to help repay the hundreds of investors cheated by Madoff's 65-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme -- much of it apparently comprised of phony funds -- with Gaston & Sheehan Auctioneers taking in an undisclosed fee.

The crowds fawned over Ruth Madoff's two dozen jewels on display. A platinum, diamond and emerald bangle brought in 50,000 dollars.

Objects with little value other than having belonged to the infamous crook also had notable success, including his personal stationary -- estimated at 100 dollars and sold for 2,500 -- or a wooden duck valued at a mere 60 dollars but sold for 4,750.

The Madoff name along with that of his wife appeared on many other goods, ranging from golf clubs to beach boards.

Ruth Madoff's furs, all neatly hanging in plastic bags, attracted little interest, but the crowds grouped around her designer bags bearing labels such as Hermes, Prada, Chanel or Louis Vuitton.

In all, the sale brought in 942,650 dollars -- nearly twice the 500,000-dollar initial estimate.

Madoff, 71, is now serving a 150-year prison sentence for fraud at a prison near Raleigh, North Carolina.

His wife was not charged with a crime.

Court-appointed liquidator Irving Picard has already sold or placed for auction several real estate properties -- including a Manhattan penthouse and Palm Beach retreat -- belonging to the Madoffs, as well as their yachts. A Long Island beach getaway sold for eight million dollars.

But Picard has so far only recuperated a very small portion of the billions lost by Madoff's investors.

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