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Investor's Estate Eyed for Madoff Funds

The will of Florida businessman Jeffry Picower (left), an associate of Bernard Madoff who was found dead in his Palm Beach swimming pool last month, is expected to be filed today — and is bound to set off a tug of war over his assets, estimated to be far in excess of $1 billion.

Diana Henriques of The New York Times writes today that Picower's estate (most of which is to go to charity) will be targeted by the trustee charged with reclaiming the estimated $21 billion in losses suffered by investors in Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme.

In May the trustee, Irving Picard, sued for the return of $7 billion he says Picower and his wife, Barbara, withdrew over several decades from Madoff accounts, the Times reports.

The lawsuit characterized their accounts with Madoff as "riddled with blatant and obvious fraud" that should have been detected immediately.

The Picowers had denied any knowledge of the Ponzi scheme, claiming they had also been victimized by Madoff.

The Picowers' lawyers said the limit to the trustee's claim should be the $2.4 billion the couple withdrew from their accounts during the six-year recovery period specified under New York State law.

Any settlement within that $2.4 - $7 billion range could at least double the funds available to Picard to reimburse Madoff's victims.

The Picowers' lawyer told the Times that "a fair and generous settlement" with the trustee would still allow "hundreds of millions of dollars" to establish a new charitable foundation to fund medical research, as called for in the will, in addition to various cash bequests.

In addition to bequests to his widow and adult daughter totaling $225 million, the will specifies a $10 million bequest to his longtime assistant, and $1 million each for the New York Public Library, the Harlem Children's Zone and the Nurse-Family Partnership.

To read more of Henriques' article click here.