25.01.2023 - News

Done time: Disgraced Bernie Madoff’s lost watch collection

Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street – a four-part edge-of-your-seat thriller has now been released on Netflix.

The incredible show documents the truth behind Bernie Madoff’s 65 billion dollar Ponzi scheme and how his massive empire was exposed as a fraud, leaving thousands of families financially broken.

At the height of the Great Recession, he confessed to running the biggest scheme of its kind in history but he somehow managed to stay under the radar for years as doubts were raised about the government’s ability to protect investors.

He was finally jailed in 2009 and ordered to spend 150 years in prison, but died of natural causes in 2021, having served less than a tenth of his sentence.

An eclectic watch collection

When he was finally put in prison, goods were seized from this estate and auctioned off – including 65 luxury watches. The cash raised was given to a fund to support his victims.

Among the eclectic collection were some top brands including IWC, Rolex and Audemars Piguet. 

The Prisoner’s Watch

His 1945 Rolex Monoblocco akaThe Prisoner’s Watch’ was nothing to do with Madoff’s inmate status at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.

The 18-carat gold chronograph (ref 3525) gained its nickname because Rolex offered similar timepieces to prisoners of war in Germany during World War II, including those involved in The Great Escape. 

The model was one of just 27 Swiss-made watches that the U.S. Marshals Service sold as it sought to recover assets for Madoff’s victims.

Patek Philippe reference 130

There were two of these modest 33mm Calatrava chronographs up for grabs – both playing an important part in the brand’s history back in the 1930 and 1940s.

Both with refined dials, Madoff had owned both a black and a champagne dial, with the champagne reaching slightly more value at auction.

Read more

And there were plenty more beautiful and vintage watches auctioned off including a stunning IWC Portugese with a silver dial and rose gold markers which fetched £3,900 – rather than the £2,300 estimated.

There was even a 1942 vintage Rolex 18-carat gold Antimagnetique that had been professionally restored. It reached £13,500 at the auction, which was a fair price for the elegant piece.

From the same era, there was a Bubble Back Rolex with a rose gold dial which fetched £6,300 – twice what was expected. With a rounded case and flat back, it was quite a beautiful Art Deco watch.

A more modern masterpiece from his collection was a 1995 Rolex Explorer II with a numbered bezel that attracted bids up to £4,800.  

Vintage watches

Luxe watches sells new and pre-worn – with a number of vintage styles – luxury watches from the world’s finest brands including Cartier, Patek Philippe and Rolex.
If we can help you source your dream watch, we’d love the challenge. Contact us today.