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Ruth Madoff's Diamond Ring Sold For $550K

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/AP) -- Anyone who wants to walk in Bernard Madoff's shoes -- the actual ones he wore -- is in luck. Thousands of things from the fallen financier's Manhattan penthouse were on the auction block Saturday, including hundreds of pairs of shoes.

"We've sold every boat, every yacht, every house, every mansion and every car, and this is it for New York City," Roland Ubaldo, of the U.S. Marshals Service, told CBS 2's Lou Young. "This is a chapter closed here in New York City."

Many of the items most people have in their homes, including belts, boxer shorts, even a carbon monoxide detector, WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reports. The difference is that these items were owned by Madoff, which is why Mario Mazza bought a bar set—complete with glasses and a tray—for $2,200.


LISTEN: WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reports

"I think the man is a genius—how he got money from all those people," Mazza said.

Also auctioned on Saturday was a diamond engagement ring once worn by his wife, Ruth Madoff -- worth at least $300,000. An anonymous bidder paid the highest price of the auction -- $550,000 -- for the 10.5-carat ring.

Ruth Madoff's French diamond earrings fetched the next highest price. Valued at $100,000 to $137,500, they went for $135,000 to an undisclosed buyer.

The sale started Saturday morning at the Sheraton New York Hotel

The man who became a symbol of greed and deceit on Wall Street also had a lavish collection of watches. One of his vintage steel Rolex "Moon Phase" watches sold for $67,500, topping a $60,000 minimum estimate.

Real estate developer John Rodgers set up a $35,000 limit for himself for Madoff's 1917 Steinway piano, but he ended up paying $42,000 once the bidding got heavy.

Did he feel like he got a bargain? "Nope," he said.

That's good, because the experts say it's only worth about $7,000. The upside, of course, is that the money is going to the Madoff victims' fund.

"I'm glad prices are high, but from an intrinsic value, people are paying three to four times, often 10 times more than it's worth," antiques dealer Barbara Goodman said.

Bernie Madoff
(Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

Rodger, an amateur pianist who will keep the Steinway in his home in East Islip, said it would "make an interesting conversation piece."

"I just wanted a Steinway piano," Rodger said.

When Madoff was arrested two years ago, U.S. Marshals seized everything from the couple's daily life -- including his used socks, monogrammed boxer shorts and velveteen slippers now for sale.

One buyer, a bankruptcy attorney, swooped in for the couches, chairs and bed. That last item, she said, she wants to give to Ruth Madoff, to give her a chance to sleep in it without Bernie. She's serious.

"My heart goes out to Ruth Madoff, and I would be happy to give her back her bed if she wants it," Tally Weiner said.

After the auction, the feds will be selling Bernie's stuff from Florida, down in Palm Beach, and there'll be an online wine auction. After that, the Bernie Madoff liquidation sale is over.

The big prize for bidders on Saturday was the 10.5 carat diamond ring that belonged to Madoff's wife, Ruth. The pre-auction estimate for the ring was $350,000, but it sold for $550,000.

The proceeds will go to more than 3,000 clients Madoff swindled in a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme.

The 72-year-old former Wall Street trader is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina prison.

U.S. Marshal Roland Ubaldo said a total for the sale would not be available for several days, but he believed it would surpass the amount the government hoped for.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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