Tuesday, 31 May 2016
Last updated 6 min ago
Nov 15 2010 | 10:34am ET
Two million dollars is a drop in the bucket in the face of a $65 billion Ponzi scheme. But $1,700 for Bernard Madoff’s underwear and socks is a deal almost all of the fraudster’s victims would no doubt take.
The U.S. Marshals auctioned off some 500 lots worth of items Saturday, raising more than $2 million to benefit those victims. All of the goods were seized from Madoff’s two New York homes—his Upper East Side penthouse and Montauk beach house—and sold to more than 200 collectors over nearly 10 hours at a Manhattan hotel ballroom.
More than a quarter of the proceeds came from a 10.5-carat diamond ring, which brought $550,000 into the Madoff victim kitty. All told, the Marshals and court-appointed trustee Irving Picard have recovered about $1.5 billion for Madoff’s victims, who lost a total of about $20 billion.
A Steinway & Sons grand piano added $42,000 to that total, while Madoff’s bed sold for $2,250. The buyer of that lot, lawyer Tally Wiener, said she would offer it to Madoff’s wife, Ruth, “if she wants it.” Wiener admitted to being caught up in the moment, spending more than $20,000 on 16 lots. She said she might reauction some of her buys to benefit investors in Fairfield Greenwich Group’s Sentry fund, a Madoff feeder fund whose liquidation she worked on.
Among the items sold were countless suits and sweaters, as well as more than 200 pairs of shoes. A pair of monogrammed velveteen slippers fetched $6,000, while the aforementioned lot of 11 pairs of designer boxer shorts and more than 200 pairs of socks, some used, netted $1,700.
A leather footstool with a depiction of a bull on it found a buyer willing to pay $3,300. The auctioneers expected it to go for $360.
“The word that comes to mind is silly,” James Flaig, who attended the auction but didn’t bid, told Bloomberg News. “If Jesus Christ had owned it, I still wouldn’t pay these prices.”