"Garish" Madoff loot set for U.S. Marshals auction

Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:52pm EST
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By Burton Frierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Money can't buy love or happiness and in the case of Bernard Madoff, Wall Street's biggest swindler, it couldn't buy good taste either.

That's the opinion of some experts who saw the Madoff jewelry, furs and other ill-gotten extravagances that U.S. Marshals will auction on Saturday to benefit victims of his Ponzi scheme.

"I can't imagine wearing any of this. I think it is so garish," said Lark Mason, owner of fine-arts and antiques auction site iGavel.com. "The items look good with a superficial surface appeal. I think that sums up Mr. Madoff."

Designer watches and diamond earrings acquired in a decades-long fraud of as much as $65 billion will be sold alongside the imprisoned Madoff's Hofstra school ring, fishing tackle and New York Mets baseball jacket emblazoned with his infamous name.

Among the highlights is Madoff's ironically named Rolex "Prisoner Watch." The watches were made for prisoners of war in World War Two Germany and this particular one has an estimated price range of $75,000 to $87,500.

Kevin Zavian, an appraiser with the Antiques Roadshow television show said it appeared to be authentic, based on a cursory examination through the glass case, and might be listed for $100,000 to $150,000 in a different auction setting.

However, this appears to be one of the few exceptional pieces amassed by a collector who bilked investors for decades. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison on June 29.

"There is a lot of stuff here that is just run of the mill," said Zavian, who is a master jeweler.   Continued...