Bulls loom large in life of Wall Street's Madoff

MIAMI (Reuters) - As investigators delve into the private life and personal possessions of Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff, at least one thing has become apparent -- he was obsessed with bulls.

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The 70-year-old former Nasdaq market chairman seemed to have surrounded himself with all things “bullish”.

A pair of boats christened “Bull” and “Little Bull” were seized by federal agents in Florida on Wednesday as authorities swooped on the possessions of the jailed financier, who has acknowledged running what is probably the biggest investment scam in U.S. history.

A U.S. Marshal involved in the seizure of a $9.4 million luxury home owned by Madoff in south Florida’s ritzy Palm Beach enclave said on Thursday it was filled with objects and images depicting bulls, the symbol of a confident investment market.

“There was a lot of bulls in the house ... There were bulls everywhere,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Barry Golden, who spent about three hours inside the two-story Palm Beach home that was secured by federal agents late on Wednesday.

Golden told Reuters that the numerous statues, paintings and figurines of bulls were the one striking thing that made Madoff’s house different from others he had seen in the winter playground of the rich and famous.

“That stood out in my mind. It’s just that there were a lot of statues and pictures and things, bookends and so forth, of bulls,” Golden said.

Even a couple of shirts found in the house were emblazoned with bull logos or images, he added.

Boats belonging to Madoff in New York and France, part of a list of possessions declared “subject to forfeiture” by U.S. prosecutors, were also called “Bull” or “Sitting Bull”, according to official filings.

There were no bears or bear-themed art in the Palm Beach mansion, according to Golden, and none of the art had anything to do with bullfighting.

Golden had no comment on the possible bull connection to Ponzi schemes like the one masterminded by Madoff. The schemes pay investors early returns from investments made by later customers.

“It’s not my place to comment on what it all means,” Golden said.

Many of Madoff’s victims may now be thinking that his high-flying investment business, which cheated clients out an estimated $65 billion, was a lot of bull too.

Editing by Pascal Fletcher