Tomorrow morning, at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in Midtown Manhattan (and online at www.txauction.com), the US Marshals are selling off the assets of Bernie and Ruth Madoff. There’s a preview today (until 7 p.m.) at a warehouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard; some items are for ‘visual inspection’ only, but the feds will let you try on the jewellery. Madoff seems to have liked gold Patek Philippe watches, though I preferred a Rolex with a moonphase and a perpetual calendar in less gaudy stainless steel (lot 182, est. $60-70,000). The clothes wouldn’t fit me, though there are handsome ties from Charvet, and if you wear a size 8½ shoe you should pounce on lot 331: 16 pairs of John Lobb loafers with a low estimate of $1500, the price of a single new pair. There are lots of shoes. I counted more than 200 men’s pairs, including dozens unworn, to say nothing of slippers, running shoes and boots.
The Madoffs also had a library that is being sold en bloc, although a few books with inscriptions or the Madoffs’ names on the flyleaves have been singled out. Among the biographies and self-help books (Eat More Weigh Less) are many books on golf and a large collection of fiction. There are legal thrillers and mysteries (John Grisham, Sue Grafton, Nelson Demille) but also Alice Munro, Paul Auster and quite a bit of Philip Roth: Goodbye, Columbus, The Professor of Desire, American Pastoral and The Dying Animal, all in hardback. Perhaps Madoff saw something of himself in David Kepesh, the philandering son-of-a-bitch who features in two of those novels. One mistress called Madoff ‘that monster’ and said he was ‘not well-endowed’ – which may not be true, but would perhaps explain 200 pairs of size 8½ shoes.