Gov't auctions spoils of Bernie Madoff's lavish lifestyle
Published Saturday, November 13, 2010 8:43PM EST
The U.S. government sold more of disgraced financier Bernie Madoff's belongings Saturday, including hundreds of pairs of shoes, monogrammed underwear and his wife's diamond engagement ring.
The items were seized from Madoff's penthouse apartment in New York City in December 2008, when he was arrested on charges of operating a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.
Bidders vied for a number of personal items that once belonged to the former Wall Street trader and his wife, including cashmere sweaters, used socks and boxer shorts, as well as monogrammed black velveteen slippers lined with pink fabric.
Among big ticket items, a bidder who remained nameless dropped $550,000 for wife Ruth Madoff's diamond engagement ring, which is endowed with a 10.5-carat diamond. The ring was expected to go for $300,000.
A pair of Ruth Madoff's diamond earrings fetched $135,000, which was the next-highest sum paid out Saturday.
A 1917 Steinway grand piano the Madoffs' living room sold for $42,000, many times more than the $7,000 minimum price that auctioneers had expected the piano could sell for.
"I've got loads of pianos, but this one has history -- it'll make an interesting conversation piece," said John Rodger, the 81-year-old Long Island real estate executive who lodged the winning bid.
After three hours, the highest bid was for a painting by Frederick Carl Frieseke, which went for $47,500. A Rolex watch with an oyster band sold for $40,000, significantly less than the estimated auction price of $65,000 to $70,000.
Other jewelry, including diamond broaches, a diamond watch from Tiffany & Co. and a number of rare Rolex watches, were also available.
Madoff, 72, pleaded guilty in 2009 to fraud and admitted to cheating investors, including individuals and charities, out of billions of dollars. He is now serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina prison.
The proceeds from the sale will be deposited into the U.S. Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture Fund, which will be distributed among Madoff's 3,000-plus victims.
A November 2009 auction of personal items raised $1 million, while another auction of Madoff's yacht, two smaller boats and a Mercedes-Benz convertible raised more than $1 million combined.
Officials are still hoping to sell Madoff's homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla. His beach house in the Hamptons on New York's Long Island sold in October 2009 for $9.4 million.
A final auction will be held in Florida to sell items from the Madoffs' Palm Beach home.
With files from The Associated Press