NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Bernard Madoff’s wine collection hits the auction block on Wednesday, when bidders can scoop up everything from a case of fine Bordeaux to a 2-ounce bottle of vodka with a stained label.
The online auction, to be run by Morrell & Co Fine Wine Auctions, was expected to raise $15,000 to $21,000.
Proceeds will go to victims of a Ponzi scheme that investigators said helped fund the high life for Madoff — including expensive cars, boats and homes in Manhattan; New York’s Long Island; Palm Beach, Florida, and Cap d’Antibes, France.
“It is an eclectic collection,” Kimberly Janis, auction director at Morrell, said in an interview. “There are some lots that are truly good wine, but there are items that aren’t typical of wine collectors, and are of more interest to people looking for Bernie Madoff memorabilia.”
Hundreds of people have registered to bid, she said.
The top lot is a case of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, a Bordeaux from 1996, valued at $3,200 to $3,800.
Some good Tuscan wine is also available, including a six-bottle lot of 1997 Antinori Tignanello.
At the other end of the spectrum are tiny bottles often found in hotel minibars or on airplane serving carts.
These include a lot of Bombay Dry Gin, Grand Marnier and Smirnoff Vodka, the latter including a bottle with a “wet stained” label.
This lot was expected to fetch $10 to $20, but has received a pre-auction bid of $220, Janis said. The Mouton has received a $5,500 bid.
Madoff’s wines were seized by the U.S. Marshals Service, which often auctions seized property to benefit crime victims.
An auction last November of Madoff’s furniture, monogrammed clothing and other personal effects raised about $2 million.
It is unclear how well Madoff stored his wines.
“The marshals said most of it was in wine refrigerators, but some of it was in the kitchen,” Janis said. “We can’t ask Mr. Madoff.”
Madoff, 73, is serving a 150-year prison sentence.
Separately on Wednesday, the belongings of Ted Kaczynski, also know as the Unabomber, will be sold via an online auction, the marshals service said. That auction runs through June 2. Kaczynski serving a life sentence in prison.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Maureen Bavdek