November 13, 2009 / 9:57 PM / 8 years ago

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

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.

SITTING DUCKS

A collection of luxury yachts and other vessels seized from Madoff and a top aide, Frank DiPascali, will be sold at an auction on November 17 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Also, there is more Madoff loot that will come up in other subsequent sales, said Jennifer Crane of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Asset Forfeiture Division.

Still, there are a lot of people want a piece of Madoff and now they’ll have their chance to buy anything from Ruth Madoff’s diamond earrings to Bernie’s duck decoys.

Bidding on the duck decoys starts at $53.

“We had a lot of interest in the duck decoys,” said Crane.

Any buyers worried about bad karma might assuage their guilt with the knowledge that the proceeds are going to a Department of Justice fund to compensate Madoff’s victims.

But who’s going to buy that Mets jacket?

“It would never be something I would wear,” said Chuck Spielman, who collects memorabilia for the classic car business he runs in San Diego. “But it would be something I would display just as a curiosity for somebody.”

Reporting by Burton Frierson, editing by Mark Egan and Jackie Frank

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