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

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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