Madoff's wine fetches $41,530 for Ponzi victims

NEW YORK Wed May 18, 2011 7:54pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Every little drop helps.

The eclectic wine and spirits collection belonging to imprisoned Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff fetched $41,530 at an online auction held on Wednesday.

All 59 lots, ranging from fine Bordeaux to the types of small bottles often found in hotel minibars, found buyers, with 54 selling above the highest estimated pre-auction price.

The winning bids exceeded the roughly $15,000 to $21,000 the auction run by Morrell & Co Fine Wine Auctions in New York had been expected to raise.

"Proceeds from this auction are going toward compensating Madoff's victims, so we couldn't be happier with the results," auction director Kimberly Janis said in a statement.

As expected, the top lot was a case of 1996 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, a Bordeaux, which went for $6,800. It had been expected to go for $3,200 to $3,800.

A case of Veuve Clicquot, yellow label brut, also fared well. It sold for $1,500, above its $240 to $350 pre-auction estimate and roughly triple what it might cost at retail.

Meanwhile, a lot of 2-ounce bottles of Bombay Dry Gin, Grand Marnier and Smirnoff Vodka commanded a $300 winning bid, well above the expected $10 to $20.

Storage conditions of the lots is not known.

Madoff's wines were seized by the U.S. Marshals Service, which often auctions seized property to benefit crime victims.

An auction last November of Madoff's furniture, monogrammed clothing and other personal effects raised about $2 million.

Madoff, 73, is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Andre Grenon)

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