Madoff properties attracting potential buyers

With reports that Madoff's 3,000-square-foot beach house on Montauk may have a buyer by Friday, U.S. marshals have begun publicizing his Palm Beach house, Manhattan penthouse and boats. A realtor for the property in Montauk told the New York Times that there were 23 showings to potential buyers over the Labor Day weekend.

The Montauk home was put on the market at $8.75 million on September 1 and 70 real estate brokers visited the home for an open house on September 3. The realtor would not disclose how much was offered for the home. But the good news for Madoff victims is that with this intense interest in Madoff properties, the government may get more for the properties than originally anticipated, which means more money can be doled out to the victims.

If all goes well with the Montauk property sale, the Palm Beach house and Manhattan penthouse could go on the market as early as this week. Both residences are expected to sell for about $7 million each. I'm sure the victims who lost billions thanks to Madoff believe the sooner the better.

The marshal in charge of the Manhattan sale, Roland Ubaldo, told CNN that his office was letting the brokers set the price. He expects a price of between $8 million and $10 million for the home where Madoff was held under house arrest. The penthouse is on the 11th and 12th floors, with a curving staircase between the two. It also has parquet floors and four working fireplaces.The state-of-the-art kitchen has stainless steel counters, custom cabinets and high-end appliances.

The apartment will be sold as a three bedroom, but that's not how Bernie and Ruth Madoff used it. Bernie and his wife, Ruth, shared one bedroom and the other two were used for studies. The couple had separate baths and walk-in closets with cedar cabinets. Bernie Madoff was a clothes hound, with 45 to 50 custom-made suits and dozens of pairs of shoes.

The 6,500-square-foot Palm Beach home was their largest home, but it was not extravagant in its decorations, U.S. Marshall Barry Golden told CNN. Golden is preparing the Florida property for sale. The Palm Beach County's property appraiser values the house itself for only $778,000, but it's the land that's expensive. The half acre the home sits on is appraised for $7 million. The home also has an 80-foot dock on the Intracoastal Waterway at the back of the house. The decor includes lots of fish and bulls. Madoff called his 55-foot custom-made yacht Bull and the house has old English paintings of breeds of bulls, as well as bull statues and figurines.

If you're a Madoff victim, you probably don't care much about the details of his homes, but are more focused on their sale prices. If the Montauk house sells for anywhere near the asking price of $7 million, it will show that Madoff may have underestimated the value of his real estate holdings. He estimated the Montauk home's worth at $3 million, the penthouse at $7 million and the Florida home at $11 million. With the interest in his properties, victims could be pleasantly surprised by the actual sale prices.,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=714922&pid=714921&uts=1252530551
The Madoff Scandal
This photo taken Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009 in New York shows the kitchen of Bernard Madoff's penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including Trading for Dummies.
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