Who’s zoomin’ who? Dubious details surrounding a Canadian auction of Bernie Madoff’s valuables

Who’s zoomin’ who? Dubious details surrounding a Canadian auction of Bernie Madoff’s valuables

Jewellery, artwork and other valuables of former Wall Street financier and infamous Ponzi scheme perpetrator Bernie Madoff made their Canadian debut at the Oakville Conference Centre for auction on Sunday—or so the event advertised. Both the Toronto Star and the National Post report the privately run auction lacked signs of legitimacy, featuring poorly organized and roughly displayed merchandise, cheesy glamour models advertising jewels and, most troubling of all, promising Madoffian authentication of the valuables only upon purchase. Um, right.

Following Madoff’s 2008 arrest and the government seizure of his assets, the U.S. Marshall Service has auctioned off many of Madoff’s valuables, with profits benefiting the victims of his billion-dollar fraud. However, in the case of Sunday’s auction here in Canada, members of the U.S. Marshall Service cautioned potential buyers to be wary of the items’ authenticity. When questioned, security staff on site refused to identify their employer, and media were refused entry to the centre. Clearly, whoever organized the event possessed Madoff’s appreciation for transparency, or lack thereof.

The Star spoke with Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee overseeing liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, who warned, “The party who may be selling this may have bought—and this has happened in the United States—may have bought items at one of those auctions and now in turn is auctioning it off again.”

Thankfully, the Oakville auction proved less successful than previous Madoff auctions. In the past, bidders paid up to $500,000 for Ruth Madoff’s diamond engagement ring, but here, the first item at auction (a two-and-a-half-by-four-foot Persian rug) started at $2,500 yet sold for a mere $300. Other items, such as a 16-carat peridot bracelet, also sold at comically low prices. It seems buyers were as skeptical of the auction’s legitimacy as we are. But hey, if these are, in fact, Madoff’s belongings, some people got a pretty good deal.

• Madoff connection creates buzz at Oakville auction [Toronto Star]
• Auction-goers disappointed by ‘Madoff Collection’ [National Post]