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DAN'S PAPERS, November 20, 2009 Page 30


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watch from the 1940s worth $63,000. Another was a Rolex “Monoblocco” watch worth $87,500. Ruth Madoff’s fur collection was also on the list—a fact that resulted in a letter sent from PETA demanding that instead of auctioning the furs off to raise money for the rich victims of the Madoff scheme, the furs should be sent instead to all shelters around the city to help the homeless get through the tough winter. “By donating them to the homeless,” PETA wrote to US Marshal Roland Ubaldo, who was overseeing the auction, “you’d be able to highlight the difference between need and greed.” Other items included Ruth’s 14-carat white gold earrings valued at $18,000, Madoff’s telescope that he used to look out to sea from the Montauk mansion he owned, and cufflinks and golf clubs from the private club he was a member of in the Hamptons. The auction was held at the Sheraton New York on Seventh Avenue. Just under $1 million was raised for Madoff’s (now) poor victims. There’s been lots more Madoff stuff in the news this week. A man named Stanley Chais has sued to get the court to unfreeze the $1 billion that is currently in a fund at Goldman Sachs. He says it’s his money. Chais is an investor and philanthropist who lives in Los Angeles and New York and who had, right up until the end, $1 billion of his money

“managed” by Madoff. Just before the beginning of the end, though, too close to the end, Chais arranged with Madoff to withdraw his $1 billion. He transferred it to Goldman Sachs, which put it in a bank account in his name. Chais then heaved a great sigh of relief as the Madoff scam came crashing down. Shortly after the collapse, though, Irving Picard, the court trustee overseeing the liquidation of Madoff’s assets, wrote to the judge demanding that the $1 billion, along with $5 more billion from other people, be turned over to him because their withdrawals at the last minute clearly suggested they knew what was about to happen. The court agreed. The funds remain with Goldman Sachs, now in the trustee’s name, but frozen. Chais pleaded poverty. Picard told him to sell his Los Angeles house to pay his bills. Now Chais has sued Picard personally. Also on Friday, two computer programmers who worked for Madoff were arrested and charged with conspiracy and keeping falsified online records that could send them to jail for 30 years each. They are George Perez of East Brunswick, NJ, and Jerome O’Hara of Malverne, NY, and they had offices in Madoff’s office—the “Lipstick” Building on Third Avenue—and in those offices they wrote code and created programs to make false stock transactions that never took place look like they did.

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They did this for three years, from 2004-2006, and then as they saw this could not go on, said they would cease doing that work. Madoff ordered they receive as they parted “whatever they wanted to keep them happy,” which turned out to be $60,000 each. All together, over the three years, O’Hara took home $900,000 while Perez took home $289,000. Both men used the money to buy larger homes. Neither said a peep to the authorities about what they knew. In still more Madoff news, this past week, the asking price for Madoff’s penthouse apartment in Manhattan was reduced due to no takers. Madoff’s Palm Beach house was also reduced. As you probably know, Madoff’s Montauk oceanfront vacation house on Old Montauk Highway, when offered up one month ago, flew off the block and up into a bidding war. What had been originally expected was $3 million. In the end it sold for $8.9 million to Manhattan developer Steven Roth. Now it turns out that Madoff’s other two properties are not as valuable as the appraisers say. The Manhattan apartment was reduced from $9.9 million to $8.9 million last week. The Palm Beach house was reduced from $8.49 million to $7.9 last week. A week ago, Madoff’s 2001 Mercedes station wagon, which was put up for auction with an expected sale price of $20,000, wound up selling for just $14,250 to Gregory Przybylski, a surgeon from New Jersey. Why was that? Why is everything else except the Montauk property not worth what was expected by the experts? One can only speculate. But the way I see it, the Montauk property is really the only one that can be shown off to friends of the new owner with any enthusiasm. This was Madoff’s vacation house. It is oceanfront in a surfing and fishing town with no pretenses of any kind. There would not only be no hex or spookiness about owning a house last lived in by the equivalent of Jesse James, it would be possible that it could be a conversation piece. The new owner sits in the living room, the fire in the fireplace roaring, the high surf of the ocean pounding the shore, and it’s a good time. A toast to Bernie Madoff. And now lets run into the ocean for a dip. The Manhattan property would be the primary home, with all the bills to pay and the groceries to buy and the kids to get to school, and it just isn’t the same. No trophy here. Just a lot of everyday life, and the damnation to hell of this man who ruined a whole lot of fine people. Can’t have that. As for the car, as one woman said after a reporter asked her about the fact that the car sold for just a little more than half its value, “I wouldn’t want to put my butt where he put his butt.” As for Palm Beach, that town is a serious place, with lots of parties, deals in back rooms and events jammed into only a few months in the wintertime, and maybe it is just one of those things where a buyer of a star-crossed property would be shunned by the neighbors. Anyway, them’s my thoughts. In any case, it’s a feather in the cap of the Hamptons and Montauk that the vacation house sold for what it did. That is what vacations are made of. What do you think?

Dan's Papers Nov. 20, 2009  
Dan's Papers Nov. 20, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...