Coming Soon to Your Town: Fake ‘Madoff’ Auctions?

Ads for “Bernie Madoff Auction” sales have been popping up around the country in recent weeks, getting the word out in such places as Columbus, Ohio, and Charleston, S.C., by placing big stickers on the front page of local newspapers. The ads begin: “Due to losses caused by Bernie Madoff” and then detail such treasures as original art by Peter Max, Salvador Dali and Norman Rockwell — as well as Rolex watches and “other flashy items” — that are to be sold to “recover losses from Ponzi scheme.” Trouble is, it’s hard to tell whether any of the merchandise at these auctions was owned by Madoff or those he ruined or if the ads are just a dubious way to drum up traffic for run-of-the-mill estate sales.