Auction Helps Victims Bilked by Bernie

Bidders snag posh trinkets from Madoff marks

Bernie Madoff took them for millions and last night some South Floridians were forced to part with some of their high-end merch at an auction for victims of the Ponzi schemer.

Pricey jewelry, gaudy home items and acclaimed artwork were all up for bid at Kodner Gallery in Dania Beach, and buyers were happy to help out the victims, even if some didn't necessarily feel sorry for them.   

"They should have paid more attention to their investments all along. They got a decent return on whatever they invested," said bidder Robert Siedlecki. "I feel being here, I'm helping them by buying what they have to assist them. So I feel I'm the good guy in this."

About 75 lots featured at the auction last night had belonged to victims of the Wall Street cheat, and auction managers claimed that many of the items were being sold so Madoff's marks could survive. One such item was a 70-carat diamond necklace, bought for $200,000 in 1980 and brought down to a $50,000 opening bid last night.

"[The owner] wants it sold, he needs money to pay his bills in order to live," said gallery owner Russ Kodner.

Kodner said that the pricey items, including several ivory collections and artwork from Picasso and Chagall, were beloved family heirlooms.

"Some of these pieces were actually promised to be passed down to some of their grandchildren but they're now forced to sell these items, which is very unfortunate," Kodner said.

While many bidders showed up looking for bargains, they were also hoping to provide some relief to the once-wealthy victims of Bernie.

"I sympathize with them but this is one way that maybe they'll be able to get some of their assets liquidiated, and hopefully it'll be helpful to them," bidder Melanie Weit said.

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