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Friday, 20 March 2009

The Madoffs' Jewelry Collection Shines its Last

By now, pretty much everyone has heard of Bernard Madoff and his astronomically large Ponzi scheme. Causing outrage and fascination in almost equal measure, Madoff's elaborate collection of lies, cheats, and cover ups has been crawling through the headlines for months. It's no surprise that at a time when financial concerns for most Americans -- and indeed, most people around the world -- are reaching a climatic peak, a story of dishonesty and cunning tricks should hold the media and the people so very captivated. Though the number seems to put on some bulk every few days, the most recent tally of the extent of Madoff's scheme has reached $170 billion. At this point, sums that can be easily imagined seem to be a little arbitrary by comparison; what's a few million more? But the total might be more easily envisioned when thought about in terms not of cash, but of something much more tangible: jewelry.

You've got to figure that amidst the various riches tucked away into the various Madoff estates, some serious sparklers are to be found. Like the yacht, the automobiles, and the elegant Steinway piano, fancy jewels seem like a necessary asset. And indeed, between the diamond necklaces and art deco bracelets, the charms, pendants, and sterling silver, the 24-karat gold and everything in between, Madoff, and his wife Ruth, had put together a respectable trove of jewellery. So in the face of government seizures, what fate befalls the Madoffs' twinkling accessories? They'll likely be appropriated by the government as well; almost three million dollars' worth of Mrs. Madoff's jewelry box contents have been indicated for seizure, along with a substantial collection of her husband's watches (at least 35 of the things - we shudder to think how many pairs of shoes this guy must've had!) and cuff links.
Among the jewelry bounty there are likely a few heirloom or estate pieces, along with designer finds and various over-sized gemstones. Whether the goods will be auctioned off for public sale or display is yet to be seen, but in the meantime it's clear that the Madoff's will need a less pricey alternative for getting glammed up. Well, costume jewelry is a friend to all who love the look of sparkle and shine but don't want to -- or simply can't -- shell out the big bucks for coveted materials or brands. Luckily for Madoff, costume jewelry isn't only for women; there are plenty of manly pieces to offset a nice wardrobe, whether it's a slick suit, casual duds, or a prison uniform.

Madoff & Co are likely finding themselves coming to understand the experiences of the clients they ripped off along with the majority of financially squeezed people today. And the mastermind of so many squandered billions will probably learn that sometimes, you've got to let go of your gold.

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