A crowd of 50 jostled to get a look at 14-carat diamond earrings, a platinum, diamond and emerald bracelet and close to 200 other items, as U.S. Marshals prepared for an auction from the estate of convicted Ponzi scammer Bernard Madoff.
"Don't you dare bid on that," said Laura Deauchesne, looking at item 314, a black crocodile leather purse from Zagliani. Deauchesne had come all the way from California for the auction. "It's a historical and charitable event because it benefits the victims, so I would feel good about spending here."
"We already have 1,000 online bidders registered and we expect a few hundred live bidders tomorrow," said U.S. Marshal Roland Ubaldo. Registration for the auction is now closed.
One jewelry dealer was dismayed by the crush of people. "This is ridiculous," he said. "There should be more attendants. It shouldn't take this long."
The auction includes property seized by the government in connection with other criminal cases, but 191 of the items are from the Madoff estate. The Madoff items include silver earrings, men's watches, a gold class ring, pens, leather watchbands, and a silver and diamond ring. There are also pearls and almost 20 purses, including Louis Vuitton and Chanel, that belonged to Ruth Madoff.
Item 218, a pair of pre-Victorian diamond dangle earrings, is expected to bring as much as $21,400 at auction. Item 202, an Edwardian-era diamond bracelet encrusted with emeralds, may yield $23,000. If the items are purchased by dealers, as is likely, they will retail for two or three times their auction price when resold.
U.S. Marshals are under court order to liquidate all assets, so the list also includes less costly and more quirky personal possessions. Among the items for sale from the Madoffs' Montauk estate are a strange wooden bird sculpture, native masks, boogie boards, kitchenware, fishing equipment, baseball gloves, even Igloo ice chests.
On Tuesday in Ft. Lauderdale, Marshals will auction off Madoff's yacht "The Bull" and his Mercedes. Madoff insider Frank DiPascali's 61-foot yacht will also be for sale.