Madoff victims auction off art in Southampton

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High culture and bargain prices mixed in Southampton Sunday at a public auction held on behalf of a Philadelphia family who was scammed by convicted swindler Bernard Madoff.

The auction, which featured art from world-renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Rembrandt, was held at Four Seasons catering in Southampton, and was the third such auction of the family's art collection.

The auction would not identify the name of the family. But auction officials said the bidding took place on Long Island because the family has ties here.

More than 120 items were put up on the block, including more than 100 paintings, sketches and etchings; four sculptures; and more than a dozen rugs and carpets from Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir and China. They netted more than $275,000 in total.

The biggest draw of the day came in the form of an oil painting by Camille Pissarro. It created heated bidding and a final price of $17,000. Carpets were also in high demand, with a large silk one from Kashmir fetching $15,000.

Several of those in the large crowd said they were trying to grab a piece of history on the cheap.

Angelika Latsey, from Manhattan, said she felt that some of the artwork could have been presented better. "The carpets were great, but I wasn't too impressed with the [artwork] collection," said Latsey.

But Joe and Sue of Quogue, who didn't give their last names, said they were impressed with the art.

"We got a couple of high-quality things -- museum quality, investment quality." Said Sue: "You don't want to take advantage of other people's unfortunate times, but sometimes an occasion like this presents itself, and it's a good opportunity."

Madoff, 71, pleaded guilty to fraud in what he had termed a giant Ponzi scheme, variously estimated at $55 billion to $65 billion.  He is serving 150 years in a federal prison in Buford, N.C.

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