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Auction of Bernie Madoff's personal items nets over $2 million

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An auction of convicted scam artist Bernie Madoff's personal items brought in over $2 million
  • The big-ticket items included an engagement ring, piano and velveteen slippers
  • Maddoff, 71, admitted heading a scheme that defrauded clients out of billions of dollars
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(CNN) -- Bernie Madoff's victims, who were collectively swindled out of more than $50 billion, effectively recouped more than $2 million on Saturday in an auction of the investment titan-turned-villain's personal items.

The U.S. Marshals Service sold off nearly 500 pieces of personal property belonging to Bernie and his wife Ruth Madoff in New York on Saturday morning. The money raised through the auction goes the U.S. Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund to compensate the victims of Madoff's history-making fraud.

"Another chapter (in the Madoff saga) ended here today," Deputy U.S. Marshal Roland Ubaldo told CNN by e-mail. "All 489 lots of ill-gotten gains sold today and the proceeds will go toward something good for a change."

For months, Madoff successfully avoided detention after his arrest for engineering a sprawling Ponzi scheme, posting $10 million bail and cloistering himself with his wife in their $7 million Manhattan apartment. But he lost his freedom -- as well as access to his once vast wealth -- when he pleaded guilty in 2009 to 11 counts including money laundering and perjury. A judge, saying he had perpetrated "extraordinarily evil" crimes, later sentenced him to 150 years in prison.

On Saturday, some of Madoff's riches taken from his homes in New York City and Montauk, Long Island, were on the auction block. Several items went for significantly more money than had been expected in what the U.S. Marshall's office deemed "a very successful day."

A 10.5-carat diamond engagement ring fetched $550,000 at the auction -- appreciably more than the $350,000 auctioneers had hoped to get. A Steinway and Sons grand piano, which had been expected to get $16,000, went for $42,000, while a pair of black velveteen slippers embroidered with the initials BLM in gold thread were sold for $6,100, said Ubaldo.

Last year, the first auction of Madoff's property brought in more than $900,000, with most items selling for prices well beyond the highest pre-sale estimates.

The 71-year-old is now at the Butner Federal Correction Complex, a medium-security prison in North Carolina, and scheduled to be released on Nov. 14, 2139.

He masqueraded his investment firm as legitimate when it was nothing more than a front. He would use the funds from new investors to send payments to his more mature investors. He would falsely portray these payments as proceeds from investments, when they were actually stolen money.

CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.