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Madoff’s Yacht is the Talk of Monaco

By Sam Jones, Financial Times
Wednesday, 22 Jun 2011 | 12:58 PM ET

For the great and the good of the hedge fund world gathered in Monaco this week, there is only one trade worth discussing: Bernard Madoff’s boat.

Bernie Madoff
Getty Images
Bernie Madoff

The 90ft powerboat, “one of the fastest ever built” is being discreetly offered for sale with a €3m ($4.3 million) pricetag this week at the Gaim conference—one of the European hedge fund industry’s most glamorous annual events.

The boat named “Bull” is the single most valuable item from Mr. Madoff’s personal fortune to be auctioned so far, excluding his New York penthouse, in order to raise money to compensate victims of his $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Previous auctions of the Madoff family’s personal assets have raised an estimated $24 million in total from sales of items including a classic Aston Martin, antique Chinese porcelains and rare watches.

Bull, one of the final Madoff items for sale, has had about 350 hours of use and has “been continuously and meticulously looked after by the original captain,” say sales documents distributed at the conference and seen by the Financial Times. The €3 million pricetag is a significant discount to the boat’s listed price, apparently due to its Madoff connection. Interested bidders from the conference were invited to a watch a demonstration of the boat’s prowess from a champagne reception on the balcony of the Llorca Café, run by two-star Michelin chef Alain Llorca, in the evening.

They watched it cruise at top speed, 42 knots, 77 km/h, across the Monegasque waterfront, past Monte Carlo and along the Larvotto. “If the owner wants anonymity a simple name change is all that is required,” Wyles Hardy, the UK-based agent selling the boat, noted in its brochure.

The boat can sleep up to six guests and includes an “owners stateroom.” Further accommodation is provided for its crew.

The sale of the vessel is an uncomfortable reminder for the hedge fund crowd gathered in Monaco.

Money managers who lost clients millions because they invested with Madoff—so-called fund of funds—continue to make up a sizeable chunk of Gaim conference attendees. Many have yet to live down their failures in due diligence.

The Bull was seized by US Marshals in April 2009, several months after Mr. Madoff was arrested for allegedly masterminding a huge $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Mr. Madoff had already pleaded guilty on all 11 counts against him at the time of the boat’s seizure.

The sale of the Bull has been instructed “by the joint liquidators of Madoff Securities International” the sales documents say.

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