Under the watchful eyes of 150 members of the press, roughly 500 bidders crowded into a ballroom at the Sheraton and 1,100 registered online bidders competed yesterday for the chance to overpay for their own shabby relic of Bernie Madoff’s version of the american dream.
The sale of spoils seized from Madoff’s homes raised over $900k, almost twice the $500k estimate by Pflugerville, TX auctioneers Gaston and Sheehan, who ran the auction for the US Marshal’s Service. Proceeds are going to a fund to reimburse his victims.
The hot sellers were Ruth’s jewelry, Bernie’s one-size-fits-all Mets jacket, and a baffling array of household tat, including a $7,500 buoy from the family yacht, two Igloo coolers for $250, and duck decoys that sold for $11.5k, sixty two times the estimate.
Madoff’s vintage watch collection underperformed, bringing in far less than expected. Osvaldo Patrizzi, an auctioneer who specializes in swiss watches, says that the watches have been restored, lowering their value to collectors by as much as 50%. A gold version of the steel Rolex “prisoner’s watch” sent to british POWs during WW2, which got heavy play as an ironic detail in the days before the auction, went for $65k. It was valued at up to $87,500. One Oyster watch valued at $55k failed to meet the minimum bid of $35k and was withdrawn.
For a group which bid three boogie boards up to $1k, the shoppers expressed an unusual level of disinterestedness, with most citing the desire to help the victims.