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September 2, 2009

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Madoff creditors wait to see his properties sold

THOSE who see Bernard Madoff as the personification of greed and excess might be disappointed by his beach house: It's not that palatial.

At 280 square meters, the home is cottage-size by super-rich standards. Its furnishings look as old as Madoff's decades-long fraud. There's no garage. Not even a walk-in closet.

But the 0.49-hectare lot sits closer to the surf than larger neighbors on the southeastern tip of Long Island. And the house features a grand columned porch with stunning views, undeniable selling points.

The United States Marshals Service, which seized the property just east of the Hamptons on July 1, puts it on the market this week to help pay back investors burned by Madoff's epic fraud.

They also plan to enlist brokers to find buyers for a Manhattan apartment and a Palm Beach, Florida, estate once owned by the financier turned felon.

In estimates that federal regulators filed last year, Madoff valued his Manhattan apartment at US$7 million and the Florida property at US$11 million. He said the Montauk beach house, which he bought in 1979, was worth US$3 million.

Federal authorities believe the seaside property could bring closer to US$8 million. Whether Madoff's notoriety hurts or helps the selling price remains to be seen.

"Our goal is to place the homes on the market soon to minimize the amount of time they remain in our inventory and maximize the return to the victims," US Marshal Joseph R. Guccione said on Monday.

Madoff, 71, was sentenced in June to 150 years in prison for orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme that spanned decades.


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