A vintage 55-foot (16.7-meter) yacht named "Bull" and two smaller boats that once belonged to imprisoned financier Bernard Madoff are headed for the auction block, along with an even bigger yacht once owned by Madoff's right-hand man.
Madoff's 1969 Rybovich sportfisher, a wooden boat meticulously restored, is the prize offering at Tuesday's private auction. As of Monday, 29 people had put up a $100,000 deposit for the opportunity to bid and more were expected to register, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
"People have heard of it. It's a piece of history," said Bob Toney, president and CEO of National Liquidators, which is handling the auction for the government.
Also for sale are Madoff's 38-foot (11.5-meter) Shelter Island runabout, named "Sitting Bull," and a 24-foot (7.3-meter) Maverick center console named "Little Bull." Then there's Madoff's black 1999 Mercedes-Benz CLK 320 convertible, which has just 12,800 miles (20,600 kilometers) on the odometer, and a 61-foot (18.6-meter) Viking fishing yacht formerly owned by Madoff's ex-chief financial officer, Frank DiPascali.
Together, the vessels and car could fetch several million dollars, but officials don't want to put a price tag on any particular item before the auction. Madoff's notoriety could also boost the final sales prices, said Jennifer Crane of the Marshals' asset forfeiture division.
"You can't really put a price on this," she said. "Our goal is to make as much money as possible."
The proceeds will go to investors in Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme. He is currently serving a 150-year federal prison sentence in North Carolina.
An auction this past weekend in New York of jewelry, dishes, clothing and other personal property brought in more than $1 million, Crane said, with three or four additional auctions of personal property yet to be scheduled.
Madoff's penthouse apartment in Manhattan is on the market for $8.9 million — recently reduced by $1 million — and the asking price for his waterfront Palm Beach mansion is $7.9 million. A beach house in the Hamptons on New York's Long Island sold last month for $9.4 million.