The wines of convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff sold last night at Morrell and Company, and once more the prices exceeded expectations as fascination with the man himself continues. All 59 lots found buyers, and all but five exceeded the company's highest estimates.
Of course it's difficult to prise apart the strong wine market from the memorabilia effects. It wouldn't be unimaginable for a case of 1996 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Bordeaux, which went for $6,800 (double the top estimate) to have achieved that price with another owner.
On the other hand another lot, consisting of Bombay gin, Grand Marnier liqueur and Smirnoff vodka, which was expected to sell for no more than $20 sold for $300, suggesting that there was some other reason for investors putting their hands in their pockets.
Morrell and Company had admitted lowering their high standards for some of the bottles noting "Some of the bottles are better viewed as conversation pieces rather than valued for their contents, but conversation pieces they are."
In total the auction achieved $41,530 - virtually double the $21,000 high estimate for the whole auction with the proceeds going to help his victims. It is notable that, considering Madoff was once considered an investor of genius that the only assets associated with him which are still valuable are his tangible alternative investments (such as wine, watches and jewellery) and his memorabilia