Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2011 Issue

Bernie Madoff's Books up for Auction

Madoff books

Some of the books from Bernie Madoff's Palm Beach home.

A large auction will be taking place at the Miami Beach Convention Center June 3 and 4, and while not primarily a book auction, there are six lots each consisting of numerous books from their once enormously wealthy owner. That owner would be Bernard Madoff, operator of the largest Ponzi scheme ever imagined. He bilked his investors, including some of the richest and most powerful individuals and institutions in the land, out of billions of dollars. When it all came tumbling down, a fortune was lost, and the lives of investors who had most of their savings entrusted to him came crashing down as well. Mr. Madoff was tried and convicted, and sentenced to 150 years in prison. He will be well over 200 years old before he can be freed.

 

This is not a great collection, though there are books of modest value within it. Nothing indicates he was a particularly knowledgeable book collector. They come from Madoff's Palm Beach residence, which was secondary to his New York home. Perhaps he had better in New York. Nonetheless, I am sure most of us would be quite pleased having Madoff's secondary residence as our first, or owning the various jewelry, furniture, art and other accoutrements of wealth Mr. Madoff possessed. They may also be purchased at this auction. It certainly must have been fun while it lasted.

 

The first book lot includes the Cambridge Shakespeare, a limited edition that might be worth a grand or two, a Longfellow compilation, and a nice set of Dickens' works from 1876. Most volumes are inscribed, but unfortunately by Bernard Gooch Smith, not Charles Dickens. Smith was apparently a descendant of John Smith, but not the John Smith, just a John Smith.

 

The next book lot has some poetry and other works by Walter Scott. Again, these are not the premier editions. There is George Bancroft's The History of the United States, but in a fourth edition.

 

The next lot includes A History of British Birds, probably worth a few hundred dollars, and some more Shakespeare about 400 years too late to be seriously valuable.

 

The fourth lot is described as "Twenty (20) hard back books; novels & fiction." This description is repeated 12 times without ever telling us what even one of those twenty (20) books is. I will guess they are not of great value.

 

The fifth lot includes a whole mess of books and catalogues, all of modern vintage. Six are inscribed to Mr. Madoff, an embarrassment to authors such as Herman Wouk, George Kennan, and Saul Bellow, that probably gives them an ironic sort of collecting value. Even more ironic is The New York Mets, A Photographic History. Mr. Madoff's bankruptcy trustee is threatening the owner of the New York Mets with a billion (yes, billion) dollar lawsuit for withdrawals and profits made with Madoff on the grounds he either knew or should have known that Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme. Other titles in this lot suggest Madoff liked fishing, boats, cigars, art, wine, and Rolex watches (the latter confirmed by watches available in this sale). Ruth Madoff, Mr. Madoff's wife, has signed three of these books.

 

The sixth book lot consists of a truckload of stuff too varied to describe. Suffice it to say it is sufficient to start a library, though not a very well defined one. Everything and everyone from John Denver to Ansel Adams, Gore Vidal, President Ford, the Soviet Union, sex, health, securities, Don Quixote, you name it, is here.

 

You may bid for these books, and everything else, online if you can't be in Miami. You have to put $1,000 to bid, but it is refundable. You can find the auction at this link, but time is almost up: click here. Click "View Pictures" to see the lots. Books are found in lots 616, 617, 618, 750, 751, and 752. These books may not be among the most valuable you will ever find, but the provenance is priceless.

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
  • <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b> Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b><center>Neal Auction Company<br>Spring Estates 2021<br>April 16-18</b>
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Lyscosthenes, Conrad. <i>Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon,</i> Basilea: Henricus Petrus, c. 1557, first edition, folio. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Collection of Ethiopic Religious Texts, in Ge'ez , illuminated manuscripts on vellum, c. 1700-20th c. (5 pcs.) $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Augustinus, Aurelius Sanctus.<br><i>De Civitate Dei,</i> Venice: Bonetus Locatellus per Octavianus Scotus, 9 Febbraio, 1486, 4to. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b><center>Neal Auction Company<br>Spring Estates 2021<br>April 16-18</b>
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Choiseul-Gouffier, Marie Gabriel Comte de. <i>Voyage Pittoresque de la Grece,</i> Paris, J.J. Blaise, 1782-1809-1822, first edition. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Rufinus, Tyrannius (c. 345-411). <i>Expositio in symbolum apostolorum,</i> [Cologne, Ulrich Zel, c. 1472], first edition. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Magnus, Albertus. <i>Summa de eucharistiae sacramento,</i> Ulm: Johann Zainer, 1474. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b><center>Neal Auction Company<br>Spring Estates 2021<br>April 16-18</b>
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Strabo. <i>Rerum geographicarum libri septemdecim. A Guilielmo Xylandro Augstano magna cura recogniti…,</i> Basel, Henricpetri, (August 1571). $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Riou, Stephen (1720-1780). <i>The Grecian Orders of Architecture. Delineated and Explained from the Antiquities of Athens,</i> London, 1768. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Mair, Paul Hektor. <i>Geschlechter Buch...der...Statt Augspurg,</i> Frankfurt am Maim, Sigmund Feyerabend, 1580. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b><center>Neal Auction Company<br>Spring Estates 2021<br>April 16-18</b>
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Polybius (c. 200-118 B.C.). <i>Historiarum libri priores quinque,</i> Basel: Johann Herwagen, 1549. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Bellori, Giovanni Pietro. <i>Columna Antoniniana Marci Aurelii Antonini Augusti rebus gestis insignis Germanis simul...,</i> Rome, [1672]. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> <i>Ecclesiasticae Historiae, Eusebii Pamphili...Eiusdem de vita Constantini...Socratis...,</i> Paris, Robert Estienne, 1544. $800 to $1,200.

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