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January 2, 2010

Bernard Madoff items for auction in Concord Sunday?


On the front page of my Contra Costa Times, above the fold, is a sticker that reads:

Bernie Madoff Auction

It promises that you can pick up "original art by Peter Max, Dali, Rockwell ... jewelry, Rolex, and other 'flashy items' duly instruction by Millionaire's (sic) estate as well as other promiment traders. Seized assets and general order merchandise which constitutes the majority, will be liquidated to the highest bidder to recover losses from Ponzi Scheme." 

Well, if you're interested, head over to the Concord Hilton. The preview will take place at 12:30 p.m.; the auction at 1 p.m.

The notorious financier, as you might remember, was sentenced in late June to 150 years in prison for perpetrating what many say was one of Wall Street’s most brazen investment scams. Billions of dollars were lost as a result of securities fraud and money laundering. No doubt, Madoff accumulated lots of property and really nice, luxe stuff with all that money he earned illegally. And no doubt, lots of that stuff has been auctioned off already.

But in fine print on the ad on the front of today's Contra Costa Times, you will find that you're not being invited to bid for items actually owned by Madoff or his estate.  The sad reality is that, according to the ad, they apparently belonged to his victims, and are being sold to recoup their losses.  

Actually, these Bernie Madoff auctions have apparently been taking place all over the country, but some have been greeted by skeptism, including by law enforcement. The Connecticut Attorney General's Office is investigating one Madoff auction that took place in early December. The Hartford Courant reported that the "auction offered few Madoff items, if there were any at all and the auctioneer would not provide details on where the items came from."

At an October auction in Naples, Florida, buyers snagged what were said to be an original Picasso lithograph, a 23.25-carat emerald necklace, and an original Norman Rockwell painting.

This October auction was advertised in the Naples Daily News in a similar way as the one to be held in Concord Sunday.  Little information is given on the ad about who is holding the auction.  The only contact information is a one-page website, www.madoffhelpline.com. It asks, “Have you been a victim of Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme?”

It provides an e-mail address: info@madoffhelpline.com.

The Naples Daily News found that the auction in its town was held by a company called Southern Star Auctioneers of Chamblee, Ga. A representative of that company admitted to the newspaper that “we ourselves do not know (if an item) comes from a Madoff victim or not," adding that company wouldn’t identify merchandise as such even if they did know its origins. "The person who sold to us doesn’t want us to say. We are just doing a public service,” the company's representative said.

Well, if you go check out the auction, and are eager to get ahold of some supposedly priceless art and jewels, just remember that old Latin phrase: caveat emptor. You know, "buyer beware."

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great example of deceptive advertising. I believe the group that developed it previously worked for the mortgage industry!

Anonymous said...

Spelling error? Is that Peter Maxi pad, or just Peter Max?

AKA Soccer Mom said...

Dear 11:43 a.m.
I do believe there was a brief period where the Cosmic 60s artist Peter Max was maybe using ordinary household items and women's personal products as art objects to make some statement about the banality of our consumer society and gender identification in the late 20th century. Some of those works were highly controversial, shocking provacative.

Okay, I'm making that up. Thanks for noticing this boo-boo.

I must say with some pride that I have not, as far as I know, mixed up the "public," "pubic" words yet.

But it's gonna happen sometime.

Anonymous said...

AKA, Funny! I like your sense of humor. I also make speeling errors.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is so above the quality of most bloggers' I think we can cut you some spelling slack, SM ;-)

Anonymous said...

I say NO SLACK shall be given for grammar errors!

Anonymous said...

The ad is also on the Contra Costa Times homepage....

Think they'll send one of their reporters to check it out and see if it's legit?

SM, you gonna go?

AKA Soccer Mom said...

Yeah, I think I'll see if I can find a Peter Maxipad sculpture :)

High School Drop-out said...

"If you interested ..." should be: If you are interested.

"The auction at 1 pm ..." should be: The auction is at 1 pm.

AKA Soccer Mom said...

Thanks High School Drop-Out.

If I were to ever make money at this thing (in my next lifetime), I could hire you to be my copyeditor.

Anonymous said...

Terrific investigative blogging. Just google madoff auction and you'll find dozens of articles about traveling auctioneers scamming the public with their Madoff Victim auctions. They are up and down the east coast and now in California. BUYER BEWARE.

Penny Auction Online said...

AKA you just got my attention. Now I'll search for the more error and try to find out more humor ;)