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Trustee Wants to Ditch Madoff’s Fleet of Luxury Autos

Call it the Bernard L. Madoff Collection of Fine Cars.

The trustee overseeing the liquidation of Mr. Madoff’s brokerage firm has asked a federal bankruptcy judge to allow him to cancel leases on six luxury vehicles that the firm had rented. “Given the nature of this liquidation proceeding, the vehicles are of no use or value” to Madoff’s creditors, according to a motion filed Federal Bankruptcy Court by the trustee, Irving Picard.

2009 Mercedes S550
John Feister
2009 Mercedes S550

The vehicles include a 2007 Land Rover Range Rover, a 2008 Cadillac DTS, a 2009 Mercedes S550 leased last October, a 2007 Mercedes S550, a 2008 Mercedes GL450 sport-utility vehicle and a 2006 Lexus, according to the court filing in Manhattan on Wednesday.

In order to minimize the costs of administration in the case, the Mercedes and Land Rover were returned to dealerships in Long Island and New York City and the Lexus was returned to an Autonation dealership in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The filing did not indicate when the leases expire, but asked the bankruptcy court for permission to cancel them. Mr. Picard, in an effort to control costs, has also delivered termination notices to 60 former employees of Mr. Madoff’s firm.

Mr. Madoff himself has little need for his firm’s fleet of vehicles. The disgraced financier, who is accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, remains under 24-hour house arrest in his luxury Manhattan penthouse while he awaits trial.

Mr. Picard has been trying to identify the assets of the firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, which could then be sold with the proceeds going to victims of the reputed Ponzi scheme. So far, the trustee has identified about $860 million of the firm’s assets.

Mr. Madoff’s trading platform, which was once one of the largest market makers on the Nasdaq Stock Market, is also being shopped by the investment bank Lazard Frères .

In a statement Thursday, lawyers for Mr. Picard said the sale process “has drawn intensive interest from various well-known members of the financial industry.” The trustee said he hopes to file a motion to approve a sale of the firm “in the near future.”

Lawyers for Mr. Picard also asked the bankruptcy court to give the trustee another until May 1 to reject or accept the Madoff firm’s outstanding leases and contracts. The filing noted that the trustee’s “access to the debtor’s offices and books and records has been limited” and that it needed more time to examine the relevant records.