Madoff wine sale to raise funds for victims

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The Independent US

His monogrammed underpants have already been put on the market, and now it's the turn of Bernard Madoff's extensive wine cellar.

Nearly 60 lots will go under the hammer today ranging from fine wines to a selection of supermarket staples that include a £15 bottle of a French aperitif (with the level a couple of inches below the cork).

All of the bottles were seized from the homes of Madoff with the proceeds going to help compensate the victims of the disgraced financier's multi-billion-dollar fraud.

The sale is part of an ongoing clearout of the assets of Madoff, who is currently serving a 150-year prison sentence for masterminding a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that robbed hundreds of victims around the world of their investments.

The 14,000 investors had been told for decades that their money was safe and growing, but it was not. His claim to have $65bn in their accounts was not true as he'd been using new money to pay off investors who had left the scheme. One such firesale in November last year saw items such as a piano, jewellery and a collection of Rolex watches sold off. The wine sale is not likely to make much of a dent in the sums he owes: even the auctioneers admit that some of the bottles would not pass muster in a normal wine auction.

"Some of the bottles are better viewed as conversation pieces rather than valued for their contents, but conversation pieces they are," according to the auction catalogue.

The highest value lot is for 12 bottles of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, vintage 1996, with a guide price of $3,200 to $3,800. A selection of gin and vodka miniatures are suggested for $10-$20. He also appears to have a taste for fine Scotch whisky. Bottles of 12-year and 18-year single malts appear on the list.

The US authorities have also announced that they will be holding a live auction of the contents of Madoff's former mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, on June 4.