I’ll be more than willing to fess up to the charge that I’ve found a good deal of morbid fascination with all things Madoff over the last year, so it should come as no surprise that the results of the first auctions to liquidate some of his ill-gotten stuff would catch my eye as well.
The initial idea was to track the sports end of it, but it turns out that the sports memorabilia end of it just wasn’t that big of a deal, unless you count $14,500 for a shiny blue Mets jacket with his name on the back.
That Mets connection is kind of grating, since he was friends with Fred Wilpon, the Mets owner, who, in turn, was a childhood friend of Sandy Koufax. Initially I’d read reports that the Mets finances were imperiled by the Madoff madness, but in recent weeks I’ve read stories that suggest the Mets did OK and got out from under early enough to even turn a profit. That last part isn’t quite as cheery as it might sound, since there’s a very real possibility that prosecutors could try to pursue such windfalls as part of the effort to reimburse victims.
The other thing that made me giggle a bit was the apparent disdain that some of the auction and antique experts felt about the level of sophistication in his collecting habits. It wasn’t exactly as though he had black-velvet Elvis paintings or Dogs Playing Poker, but aside from an impressive pile of hideously expensive watches and other pricey jewelry, there seemed to be some implicit disappointment that his collecting bent hadn’t been a bit more spectacular.
A New York Times columnist even invoked the nearly hackneyed phrase about “the banality of evil.” Maybe. At the very least he probably merits being included in a club that has Adolf Eichmann as its charter member.