Madoff's penthouse could be yours for $10 million

NEW YORK Wed Sep 9, 2009 6:58pm EDT

1 of 7. The living room is pictured during U.S. Marshals' media tour of imprisoned fraudster Bernard Madoff's penthouse apartment in New York September 8, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/US Marshals/Pool

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York City penthouse where imprisoned fraudster Bernard Madoff spent his last days of freedom with his wife Ruth will go on sale later this week.

The seven-room duplex with wraparound terrace on Manhattan's east side is expected to fetch $8 million to $10 million, which will be used to reimburse victims of Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

The co-op apartment, to be listed by Sotheby's International Realty, contains the Madoffs' Persian rugs, chandeliers and baby grand Steinway piano, according to a press pool video released by the Marshals Service on Tuesday.

Except for FBI labels on each piece of furniture and dozens of cardboard boxes filled with designer clothing and kitchen wares, it looks as if the Madoffs could return any minute.

Art adorns the walls and Baccarat crystal glasses are in the cupboards.

But Roland Ubaldo, the deputy U.S. Marshal who showed the apartment to the media this week, said the penthouse had a much more "personal touch" when it was seized in July.

Federal marshals took possession of the penthouse on July 2, forcing Ruth Madoff to leave and surrender nearly all her belongings. She was allowed to keep a few personal effects and a "reasonable" amount of clothing, Ubaldo said.

Bernie Madoff did not need anything from the apartment because "he is given everything he needs by the Bureau of Prisons," Ubaldo said, referring to the 150-year prison term Madoff began serving this summer.

Standing in front of the closets, Ubaldo described 50 or 60 custom suits Madoff left behind, and monogrammed shirts.

The penthouse is the second of the Madoffs' four properties to be listed for sale.

On Wednesday, U.S. Marshals selected the Corcoran Group to list the Madoffs' Palm Beach mansion. Corcoran also listed their beachfront home in Montauk, Long Island, which is gaining more attention than expected from prospective buyers after being listed last week, according to Ubaldo.

U.S. authorities do not have control of a chateau the Madoffs owned in Cap D'Antibes, France, but they plan to sell the Madoffs' yachts and other personal effects.

HOUSE OF CARDS

The 4,000-square-foot penthouse where Madoff spent his house arrest may be the most infamous of his homes. A desk at which he was photographed last February typing on a laptop and sipping a beer still stands near a window.

On the tour of the apartment, Ubaldo noted that everything had been purchased based on "lies and deceit." He pointed out the custom canopy bed frame and matching floral-upholstered bedroom furniture, a Sub Zero refrigerator, hand-carved antique furniture and a Biedermeier clock.

The brick terrace, adorned with trees, wispy potted plants and a park bench, has a nearly 360-degree view of Manhattan.

The price for the penthouse on the 11th and 12th floors of 133 East 64th Street, will be set by Sotheby's, Ubaldo said.

"Although it does have the Madoff name attached to it, I believe the dark cloud has lifted and we're going to get prospective buyers for this property," he said. "This is a great piece of property."

An auction of the apartment's contents will be held once U.S. Marshals select an auctioneer and have sold the properties and yachts, Ubaldo said.

According to court documents, the Steinway is worth $39,000, clocks, lamps, lighting fixtures and sconces are worth about $1.7 million, and paintings, prints and photographs are valued at about $1.6 million.

The three Madoff properties in the United States have been valued together at around $20 million.

The Palm Beach property, a five bedroom home with a dock for a yacht, is at 410 North Lake Way.

The U.S. Marshals service said on Wednesday that it has selected National Liquidators, a boat and ship recovery and remarketing company, to auction three boats owned by Madoff.

The auction for a 55-foot yacht named "The Bull" and two other boats named "Sitting Bull" and "Little Bull" will be held November 17 at 4 p.m., in Fort Lauderdale, according to the company. A 1999 Mercedes Benz owned by the Madoffs will also be sold at that auction.

(Reporting by Emily Chasan; Editing by Gary Hill, Toni Reinhold)

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