A Mercedes and three boats once owned by Bernard and Ruth Madoff, named Bull, Sitting Bull and Little Bull, went on the government auction block Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale and brought in $2 million for victims of Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
Bidders made $100,000 deposits for the opportunity to bid on Madoff’s three boats and his wife’s 1999 Mercedes convertible, which sold for $30,000. The top prize was Bull, the 55-foot 1969 Rybovich yacht, which sold for $700,000. Sitting Bull, a 38-foot Shelter Island Runabout, went for $320,000, and Little Bull, a 24-footer, sold for $21,000, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
Prior to the sale, Bob Toney, president of National Liquidators, said, "I am pleased and surprised that the interest is this high. It's the first time I've auctioned off three boats owned by a man who embezzled $65 billion dollars, so nothing surprises me at this point.” A division of National Liquidators, the nation's largest boat recovery and auction company, oversaw the bidding for the U.S. Marshals Service.
Kim Hannah, who bid too low to bring home the Mercedes, said she and her boyfriend were partly motivated by the fact that the money would go to Madoff's victims. "It was a chance to give back and also get a good car," Hannah told the Associated Press.
Also on the auction block was the Dorothy Jo, a 61-foot, Viking Sport Fish powerboat formerly owned by Frank DiPascali, Madoff's finance chief and "right hand man,” the Sun-Sentinel reported. It sold for $950,000, the U.S. Marshals Service announced.
"Today was a good day for all the victims of Madoff's crime," U.S. Marshal spokesman Barry Golden said in a statement.
DiPascali, who is cooperating with authorities, plead guilty to 10 counts for his role in the scheme. He has not yet been sentenced. He faces up to 125 years in prison.
A government auction in New York of jewelry, sports memorabilia, art, and other items once owned by the Madoffs brought in $1 million. The 200 items were expected to bring in $500,000, but Saturday’s auction at the New York Sheraton Hotel attracted about 700 people, some of whom may have been looking for a tangible piece of Madoff’s notoriety.
Items included a pair of Cartier platinum, onyx, and diamond earrings, which sold for $70,000; Madoff’s 1960 Hofstra College ring, which went for $6,000; three wooden duck decoys, valued at a high of $80 each, sold for a total of $11,500, The Wall Street Journal reported.
More auctions are planned. A Steinway piano will be on the block. Madoff’s homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach are for sale.
Bernard Madoff, 71, is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina prison for defrauding investors. Ruth Madoff has not been charged with any crime.