The TakePart Holiday Buyers Guide to the Bernie Madoff Auction

Following the lead of Wilt Chamberlain, Adam vacated his native Philadelphia for Los Angeles following decades of acclaim and short shorts. He firmly believes that, when it comes to the opportunity for change, we’re on the goal line with bases loaded and no fouls to give. He also finds inspiration in mixed sports metaphors.

The gifting holidays are fast approaching, and what better way to bid loved ones a "Merry Christmakkah" than with reclaimed riches from America’s most unsavory swindlers, Ruth and Bernie Madoff?

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The clean undergarments of a soiled reputation! (Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

This Saturday at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an auction of the billion dollar bandit's intimate effects will give bidders a chance to own a piece of history, like Ruth’s Prada pantyhose, or Bernie’s pleated boxer shorts.

A bit of a departure from the last auction of ill-gotten Madoff goods, which put a stash of opulent artwork and jewelry up for grabs, Saturday’s sell-off feels more like a yard sale than a free-for-all on the rich and shameless.

 “The United States Marshal for the Southern District of New York has worked around the clock for the last 18 months to make sure we were obtaining and putting everything the Madoffs owned up for sale,” said Roland Ubaldo, spokesman for the Marshals Service. “Nothing has been spared. We are prepared to do what it takes to make sure restitution is granted for the victims of the Madoff Ponzi scheme.”

Mixed in with the more prosaic pick-throughs are some truly swanky scores, like a Rolex Oyster, some platinum Fred Leighton neck candy, and a pair of orange Crocs.

Proceeds, which are expected to reach $1.5 million, will go to the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund, and then to the victims of Madoff’s $65 billion shell game.

The following list offers a sample of the 489 lots of Maddoff's life. If any items catch your fancy, don't wait; like Bernie’s freedom, we don’t expect these steals to last long.


For: The Lovely Lady

Lot 194: The auction’s big fetch, Ruth’s diamond engagement ring, features an emerald-cut center stone clocking in at a statement-making 10.543 carats. Well-wishes for a long, un-incarcerated marriage included.

Staring Bid: $300,000 to $350,000.


For: The Clairvoyant Cartoonist

Lot 245: A framed political cartoon by David Brion entitled “Bernie Madoff’s Stock Buying Rivalry Irks NYSE, Amex.” An eerily prophetic personal message is scrawled on the vintage pen-and-inker: “Forever More, Peter and Bernie.”

Starting Bid: $280 to $400.


For: The Ironic Ascetic

Lot 255: A pious bag of 11 yamakas, a Mezuzah, 12 Haggadahs, 13 assorted seder books and some Hanukkah candles. Chances are these items are in mint condition, as the Madoffs were never keen on penance and self-reflection.

Starting Bid: $35 to $40.


For: Any couch potato with the initials ‘BLM’

Lot 374: A pair of black velveteen slippers with red quilted lining and gold-embroidered "BLM" monogrammed on their topsides. Personally, we'd prefer an autographed pair of Bernie's prison Converse.

Starting Bid: $75 to $110.


For: The Belgian Shoe Fanatic

Lots 324 to 329, 474: Never bilked hundreds of unsuspecting investors out of their life savings? No sweat, you can still walk a mile in any one of Madoff's 100 or so Belgian brand leather shoes.

Starting Bid: $900 to $1,290 for a single lot of 18 pairs of loafers.

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