Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Greatest Sports Deal Undone ... By Madoff?


So I just combed through the Bernie Madoff client list that was released last night. You've probably seen by now that famed Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, who reportedly attended high school with New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, is on the list.

The biggest sports name not out there yet?

Ozzie and Dan Silna, the former owners of the ABA team, the Spirits of St. Louis.

I wrote about their incredible story a year and a half ago. Quick version is this. The two brothers owned one of the teams that wasn't absorbed into the NBA-ABA merger in 1976. They negotiated to get a $2.2 million buyout and, read closely here, 1/7th of the television revenue of the four teams (the Nuggets, Nets, Pacers and Spurs) going into the league in perpetuity.

Since 1976, the Silnas (with no team) have made, by my calculations, more than $200 million from the deal.

But how much of that money did they lose with Madoff?

The brothers' names each appear once on the list, but Dan Silna's name also appears twice under a firm called ODD Investment LP and once under a company called White Lake Associates, where he is listed as a general partner. A company called Silna Investments, that corresponds to Ozzie's address, is also listed.

Perhaps the biggest sign that at least some of the money was lost from what many have called the best deal in the business of sports is the fact that the company they formed, Spirits of St. Louis, LP, is listed on the 162-page Madoff client document. There are two accounts listed on the list, one without the "s" on the word Spirits. As a technical matter, it is not known what accounts were active at the time Madoff's ponzi scheme was discovered.

An e-mail sent to Ozzie Silna for comment was not immediately returned.

Questions?  Comments?