There was another "Bernie Madoff Auction" in Syracuse, New York on Monday -- but the man running the sale couldn't guarantee that any of the items actually belonged to the disgraced financier or victims of his Ponzi scheme, prompting a spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau to call the auction itself a "scam."
Similar auctions have been held across the Eastern U.S., most, like the Syracuse auction, arranged by Atlanta-based Southern Star Auctioneers and affiliated companies.
"If a business advertises itself as a 'Bernie Madoff Auction,' but doesn't have any Bernie Madoff items, then I would call that a scam," Alison Southwick, national media relations manager for the Better Business Bureau, told ABC News.
According to Southern Star's John Schmidt, manager of the Syracuse auction, his company works with Madoff victims who are looking to liquidate their belongings. "They'll bring us their items that they have purchased and say, 'Well, I need to get some money back because I got screwed over in the Bernie Madoff scandal, can you help me?'" Schmidt told Syracuse ABC affiliate WSYR-TV.
But Schmidt couldn't name one item at the sale that belonged to Madoff or his victims. According to Schmidt, his firm is unable to provide such information because it doesn't do an inventory after every sale.
Schmidt told WSYR that to ensure the Madoff items are legitimate, his company requires the seller to sign a document verifying their authenticity. But Schmidt could not produce an example of such a document in Syracuse, saying he did not have one with him.
During and after the auction, which lasted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a reporter for WSYR asked several attendees if there had been any Madoff-related items for sale, or if the auctioneer had indicated that any of the items came from Madoff victims. No one reported seeing or hearing about any such items.
WSYR reported that the New York Attorney General's office is looking into the auctions, and that investigators had attended the auction.
Similar Madoff auctions were held in Memphis, Tennessee on Saturday, and in Nashville on Sunday. Schmidt told WSYR that he had held an auction in Pennsylvania last week.
In the cities where its "Bernie Madoff" auctions are held, Southern Star typically takes out advertisements in local newspapers with the heading "Bernie Madoff Auction." The ads are stickers slapped on the front page of the paper, and include the claim that the auction is "Due to the Losses Caused by Bernie Madoff," as well as a list of the luxury items for sale, like artwork by Peter Max, Salvador Dali, and Norman Rockwell, Rolex watches and other "flashy items."
The language of the sticker affixed to the Syracuse Post-Standard says, in garbled English, that the items were "duly instructed by Millionaire's estate as well as other prominent traders" and says "Seized assets and general order merchandise will be auctioned off to the highest bidder to recover losses from Ponzi scheme." At the bottom, however, in fine print, it notes "Items available for sale did not belong to Bernie Madoff."
"The fine print doesn't always get you off the hook," said Southwick. "If enough people are getting misled, the fine print is too fine."