November 18, 2009 / 1:54 AM / 10 years ago

Boats seized in Madoff scandal sell for $2 million

* Madoff boats bring more than $1 million at auction

* DiPascali’s yacht draws highest price, $950,000

* Proceeds to benefit victims of Madoff Ponzi scheme

MIAMI, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Four boats seized by U.S. authorities from imprisoned swindler Bernard Madoff and his right-hand man, Frank DiPascali, sold for nearly $2 million at auction on Tuesday, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

A 61-foot (19-metre) Viking Convertible motor yacht that once belonged to DiPascali, Madoff’s chief financial officer, brought the highest price — $950,000, the Marshals Service said.

Madoff’s 55-foot (17-metre) restored 1969 Rybovich fishing boat “Bull” sold for $700,000. “Sitting Bull,” his 38-foot (12-metre) 2003 Shelter Island Runabout, brought $320,000 and “Little Bull,” a 23-foot (7-metre) Maverick, sold for $21,000.

Proceeds from the auction and the sale of Madoff’s multiple homes will go to victims of his estimated $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence.

“The sales of the Madoff assets far exceeded all expectations, which equates to more money that will go back to the victims involved in the Madoff case,” Neil DeSousa, the acting U.S. Marshal in south Florida, said in a statement.

“The energy and attention of the Madoff case has resulted in higher than anticipated sales proceeds,” he said.

A 1999 Mercedes Benz CLK 320 Convertible that belonged to Madoff’s wife, Ruth, pulled in $30,000, the Marshals Service said.

The boats and car were sold at a private auction held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was open only to registered bidders, who had to put up $100,000 to bid on the larger boats and $50,000 for a chance to land the smaller boat or the car.

The auction drew 70 bidders, said the Marshals Service, which administers the Department of Justice’s criminal forfeiture program.

U.S. authorities are trying to recover money for investors cheated by Madoff, the one-time chairman of the Nasdaq stock market and trusted money manager who scammed thousands of clients worldwide for years. The scheme unraveled last December and Madoff pleaded guilty in March.

Authorities sold off more than 100 Madoff items last weekend including Ruth’s furs and diamond bracelets, Madoff’s old New York Mets baseball jacket, a Mont Blanc wallet bearing the monogram “BM,” a fishing tackle box and coolers.

Madoff’s Montauk, New York, beach home, located on a prized piece of land with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, sold for $9.41 million, the Marshals Service announced in October.

Prices were cut this month on his unsold 4,000-square-foot (372 square metres) Manhattan penthouse and his 8,750-square-foot (813 square metres) house in Palm Beach, Florida. The apartment is being offered for $8.9 million, reduced from $9.9 million, and the Palm Beach house is now $7.9 million, down from $8.49 million. (Reporting by Jim Loney; editing by Todd Eastham)

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