The music stopped for Bernie Madoff, but an East Islip man can now tickle the convicted swindler's ivories after buying his piano at auction for $42,000 Saturday in Manhattan.
John Rodger, 81, bought the Ponzi schemer's 1917 Steinway at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers to add to his collection of nine pianos. He paid $7,000 more than he intended, but the "fever of the auction" got the best of him, he said.
"There was a lot of fever in that room, and another bidder was right next to me," Rodger said.
Evidence of Bernard and Ruth Madoff's high-flying lifestyle - their furniture, jewelry, watches and clothing - was projected on two screens to a hotel ballroom crowd of about 250, who paid $500 to listen to the auctioneer howl and possibly own a piece of criminal history.
Proceeds from the 489 lots - the presale worth of which was estimated at $1.5 million - will go to the Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture Fund to compensate Madoff's victims, The Associated Press said. The former Wall Street trader, 72, is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina prison, AP said.
Another auction of Madoff's property last year raised $1 million, AP said. His yacht and boats have been sold, as well as his Manhattan penthouse, which went for $8 million.
Rodger, a real estate executive and amateur pianist since he was 6 who plays at the Huntington Yacht Club, hoped the Steinway would have its original wood, which would give it a better sound, he said.
"It's worth it to me. I got what I came for," he said.
Other successful bidders had personal reasons for buying Madoff's stuff.
Zach Zaman, 27, of Forest Hills, Queens, bought a handmade Iranian rug for $30,000 - the same rug Madoff bought from Zaman's father's store 10 years ago.
"When he walked into the store, he was like a god," Zaman recalled. "He ran a tight ship, and his people respected him highly. He had a swagger."
Zaman said his father will resell the rug, which he says is a rare example of Ottoman decorative art from the city of Tabriz.
A New Jersey man said he paid $2,300 for a bar set he means to use as an object lesson.
"I want my grandchildren to remember how Bernie ripped off people who earned a living," said Mario Mazza, who bought Scotch tumblers, brandy snifters and silver-plated decanters with an estimated price of $680. "He was a genius how he scammed everyone on Wall Street."