Bernie Madoff

Ridiculous prices fetched for Madoff’s booze collection

Bernie Madoff’s victims can finally benefit from a scam — only this one had willing victims. The wine and alcohol collection amassed by Madoff was auctioned off this week, fetching staggering prices for rather mundane lots. The proceeds will go to victims of his decades-long fraud.

Some examples:

  • Four airline-size bottles of alcohol: sold for $300 (Estimated value: $10 to $20)
  • Three bottles of unremarkable gin: sold for $350 (Estimated value: $50 to $90)
  • Two bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label: sold for $320 (Estimated value: $80 to $120)
  • Nine bottles that included Jack Daniels, Jose Cuervo tequila and Drambuie: sold for $500 (Estimated value: $90 to $180)

The auction house noted the Seagram’s VO Canadian whiskey, included in the nine-bottle lot, was of “excellent appearance” and dated vintage. “Bottle has the original Canadian tax stamp dated 1981,” the description said.

Other sales included a 12-sided crystal decanter with an estimated worth of $60 to $90. It fetched $950 at auction.

In total, the alcohol auction netted $41,530. It was conducted online by Morrell & Company, a wine retailer in New York City and the first retailer to hold a wine auction when state laws changed in 1994. The Madoff stash included more than 250 bottles of wine and liquor seized by the U.S. Marshals Service from two of the disgraced financier’s properties.

The collection wasn’t entirely stocked with run-of-the-mill booze. Included in the auction was a large amount of French wine, some bottles past their prime. The well-regarded Chateau Mouton-Rothschild from 1996 was valued at $3,200 to $3,800 — and sold for $6,800.

“This full-bodied, ripe, rich, concentrated, superbly balanced wine is paradoxical in the sense that the aromatics suggest a fair more evolved wine than the flavors reveal,” read the description of the wine, which was said to have wrinkled labels.

And a bottle of Chateau Lynch-Bages from 1990 fetched $2,200 despite a value appraised at nore more than $1,600. “A big, sweet, plum, licorice, beef blood, and jammy cassis-scented bouquet with smoked herbs and new wood in the background soars,” read the description.

Only five lots sold within their estimated value, while 54 went for above the high-end estimate. And every single one found a buyer.“The proceeds from this auction are going towards compensating Madoff’s victims, so we couldn’t be happier with the results,” said Kimberly Janis, auction director for Morrell.

The auction house had a sense of humor about the event. “We have humbly accepted the opportunity to sell the seized cellar contents,” the company noted on its website. “As artifacts of history they are unique, which is why we have chosen to offer all of the bottles seized, including those which normally wouldn’t pass muster and make it into our auction.”

“Some of the bottles are better viewed as conversation pieces rather than valued for their contents, but conversation pieces they are,” the auction house wrote.

The auction was the latest in a series selling off Madoff’s wares. Last year, a pair of monogrammed slippers went for $6,000 in an auction that raised more than $2 million for the victims of his massive Ponzi scheme.

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after admitting in 2009 to carrying out the investment fraud.

Source: Wall Street Journal