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Marshals seize Madoff properties in New York, Florida

More of the high life and times of Bernard Madoff and his family became apparent Wednesday with the release of new photos and videos of properties seized to repay investors - a Manhattan penthouse, a Palm Beach mansion, a yacht and fishing boats.

The U.S. Marshals Service seized the assets involved in Madoff's $13-billion to $21-billion securities fraud. The service also seized the Madoffs' former Montauk hideaway - on the market for $8.75 million.

The Manhattan penthouse is valued at $7 million, as is the Palm Beach home. The 55-foot Florida yacht named Bull is valued around $2.2 million. Sotheby's International Realty will handle the sale of the apartment and the Palm Beach property will be handled by the Corcoran Group, the agency said late yesterday.

Ruth Madoff surrendered her interest in the properties in June just before her husband was sentenced to 150 years in prison. Another yacht and a home in France are the subjects of legal wrangling.

Visitors to the luxurious penthouse at 133 E. 64th St. arrive in an elevator that opens directly through a door with a mezuzah, a small ornamental box containing a prayer scroll that is commonly affixed to entrances of Jewish homes. Sculptures of howling dogs sit on shelves flanking the doorway.

More Chinese antiques, including ornate cabinets, porcelain vases and towering wooden screens, adorn living and dining rooms as big as some one-bedroom city apartments.

The kitchen has marble and stainless steel countertops, Baccarat crystal glasses in the cabinets and an atrium breakfast nook. A winding staircase descends to the 11th floor and the master bedroom, furnished with a four-poster bed.

The apartment has three walk-in closets, including one where agents found more than 50 business suits. The home office has a leather couch, paintings of sailboats and a sculpture of a bull, a favorite Madoff motif, on a coffee table.

In a guest closet is an old black-and-white photo of Madoff posing next to a giant swordfish caught in the Bahamas. Guests at a bash thrown for him in 1984 signed the photo with tributes like, "You are the big fish," and "We're hooked on Bernie."

The house in Palm Beach is tucked into a palm-lined lot with a view to the west across the Intracoastal Waterway.

The 8,700-square-foot house has Mexican tile throughout, five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. It has a huge all-white kitchen and is filled with antiques, including century-old golf clubs, an 1895 set of Shakespeare's complete works, antique fly rods and 10 paintings or sculptures of bulls.

Madoff's Florida yacht, one of three all named Bull, is a 55-foot 1969 Rybovich that has been completely refitted, from brand-new twin Man Diesel engines to all-new electronics.

It lacks many of the ostentatious touches found on more modern ships, said Bill O'Dell, operations manager for National Maritime Services Inc., which is handling the auction of the yacht for National Liquidators.

"This boat is designed to go catch fish," O'Dell said. "This is a man's boat - a manly, masculine boat."

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