Monday, December 13, 2010
Madoff memorabilia sells for $1m, but watches fail to make their markChristine Seib in New York
Authorities in the United States have raised more than $1 million (£600,000) for victims of Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme after buyers paid as much as 20 times the estimates at an auction of goods that belonged to the swindler and his wife, Ruth.
Lester Miller, 77, a businessman from St Louis, Missouri, spent about $100,000 on pieces of Mrs Madoff’s jewellery, including a gold charm bracelet for which he paid $3,500, $2,500 above the estimate. He told The New York Times that he would distribute the jewellery among his daughters and granddaughters on a cruise to Mexico this weekend.
He said that he also planned to tell his granddaughters that there was a lesson to be learnt from the Madoffs: “If it’s too good to be true, it’s not right.”
Less sparkly items also excited bidders. A ring buoy from Mr Madoff’s yacht, named Bull, was valued at a maximum of $160 but fetched $7,500, while a set of three T-shirts with the Bull insignia, estimated at between $120 and $210, went for $1,300.
Buyers clamour for Madoff’s trophy properties
Dave Goodboy, who works for a New York-based hedge fund, was the proud new owner of the buoy, which he described as a Wall Street version of a relic from the Titanic.
Bidders were less enamoured with watches than the Madoffs had been. One of the prize lots — a Rolex Monoblocco, also known as the Prisoner’s Watch because the timepieces were sold to British prisoners of war during the Second World War — sold for $65,000, far below the maximum of $87,500 at which it had been valued.
Auctioneers withdrew the sale of a 1935 Rolex watch that had been valued at up to $54,000 after bids did not go higher than $35,000.
Some buyers were waiting for more esoteric items to come up for sale. Chuck Jones, who bought two wine coolers for $250, told The New York Times that he was biding his time until a lock of the swindler’s hair appeared on eBay or the like.
About 700 people packed into the ballroom of the New York Sheraton on Saturday to snap up pieces of Wall Street history, as Gaston & Sheehan, the Texan auctioneers, put 189 lots of the Madoffs’ property on the block. A further 1,000 people were bidding online for the goods, which had been seized by the US Marshals Service when they took possession of the Madoffs’ properties in Manhattan, Montauk and Palm Beach. The properties and possessions were forfeited by the Madoffs as part of the sentencing for his 20-year fraud.
Lark Mason, who was observing the auction, said: “They didn’t buy the things they were passionate about, they just wanted more and more.”
A blue satin New York Mets baseball jacket with the name Madoff stitched across the back had been valued at between $500 and $700 but went for $14,500.
Two pairs of Cartier diamond earrings owned by Mrs Madoff were sold for $70,000 each, far above their $9,800 and $21,400 estimates.
Posted by marketsurfer at 7:21 PM