Controversy Over a “Bernie Madoff” Auction

An auction claiming to sell items owned by Madoff is held in Santa Ana

At a private club in Santa Ana, workers unpacked art in preparation for what was promoted as a "Public Bernie Madoff Auction.".

But Gavin Abadi, the auctioneer behind the sale, has faced many complaints about his business practices. Records show he has been fined in Florida and sanctioned in his home state of Georgia, the Orange County Register reported.

On the block Tuesday were expensive watches and fine art said to come from Madoff's personal collection, but the owner of East Coast Auctioneers told the Orange County Register that only 20 of the 200 items up for sale came from Madoff.

Abadi and his brother Dion have organized several auctions around the country in recent months. All have been advertised as "Bernie Madoff" auctions, according to the Orange County Register.

The auctioneers say they are reaching out to Madoff victims, via the web, inviting them to liquidate their fine art or jewelry. An offer to which one Madoff victim says, no thanks.

"I wouldn't want to touch it. I wouldn't want any part of it. I don't understand that there's a part of our society that wants to covet something from something so evil," said Richard Shapiro, a California Madoff victim.

Richard Shapiro had two accounts with Madoff, a personal one and a pension plan, and basically lost everything he had earned over his 30 year career.


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"As a victim it (the auction) has no consequence. It has no bearing," Shapiro said.

But at least 30 items in Tuesday's auction came from Madoff's victims who wanted to make up some of their losses by selling what they have, according to Abadi the auctioneer.

The auctioneers insist the auctions are in the best interest of the victims who are trying to sell their merchandise, the Orange County Register reported, but admit the "Bernie Madoff" tie-in "does bring a lot of extra people to the auctions.

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