Frank DiPascali, who worked for convicted Ponzi scammer Bernard Madoff for 33 years, has finally out earned his boss. He had the bigger yacht, and it brought more money than any of Madoff's boats at an auction Tuesday that raised more than $2 million for Madoff's victims.
The 61-foot Viking yacht owned by Madoff's former chief financial officer went for $900,000 Tuesday afternoon in a Fort Lauderdale sale run by National Liquidators for the U.S. Marshals Marshal's Service Asset Forfeiture Division.
Seventy bidders placed deposits of up to $100,000 for the right to haggle over three vessels and a Mercedes owned by Ruth and Bernie Madoff, as well as DiPascali's boat, the Dorothy Jo, with all proceeds will go to the victims of Madoff's $65 billion scheme.
Madoff's 55-foot "Bull, a restored, 40-year-old Rybovich sportfishing boat, brought in $700,000, according to the U.S. Marshals. The auction catalog described it as designed for "tournament anglers," with "luxury appointments" and "premium woodwork everywhere." Prior to the auction, a Florida-based yacht salesman had told Bloomberg News that similar boats retailed for $450,000.
Roland Ubaldo, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals, said the action at the auction, which took less than an hour, was heated. "There was a lot of competitive bidding. There was a lot of back and forth. A couple guys were going head to head with each other." Bob Toney, president and CEO of National Liquidators, said, "We could not have been more pleased with the reaction. There was 100 percent satisfaction between us and the Marshals service."
According to Ubaldo, some of the heaviest bidding was for Bernie Madoff's 38-foot "Sitting Bull" twin-engined runabout, which has a teak-trimmed cockpit and teak interior. The "Sitting Bull" brought $320,000.
But Ubaldo said interest was keenest in the black 1999 Mercedes once driven by Bernie Madoff's wife Ruth, which has only 12,827 miles on the odometer. After heavy bidding, the winner paid $30,000. Madoff's smallest boat, the 23-foot "Little Bull," brought $21,000.
Ubaldo declined to identify any of the winning bidders, as did Toney of National Liquidators. "It's the confidentiality of the sale," said Toney. Given the price of the items and the his company's agreement with the Department of Justice, said Toney, "It's a good idea not to release such information." Toney said, however, that the winners are very pleased. "They have a piece of history."
According to Ubaldo, there are many sales of Madoff items yet to come. "We are not finished. We expect to have two to three more scheduled auctions in the near future."
Madoff, now 71, is currently serving a 150-year sentence at Butner federal prison in North Carolina. DiPascali, who began working for Madoff at age 19, was convicted on 10 counts related to Madoff's scam in August. He has not yet been sentenced, but he faces up to 125 years in prison.