Marketing Madoff's mansions

The U.S. homes that Bernie owned are about to go on the market. Wonder what they'll sell for?

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By Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer

madoff_montauk.la.03.jpg
Bernard Madoff's Montauk estate, which could sell for as much as $10 million.
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Nearly $22 million in Madoff real estate is about to hit the market.

The victims of the convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff are hoping for a big take because they'll share the proceeds, but whether the luxury properties will fetch as much as estimated is still an open question.

The Manhattan penthouse

The FBI valued Madoff's duplex on Manhattan's Upper East Side at $7.5 million, according to court filings. But appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel has doubts.

"The press coverage has been calling it a $7 million Park Avenue duplex," said Miller, "but from what I've seen so far, I'd call it a fairly modest place."

For one thing, it's not on Park Avenue. The address is 133 East 64th Street, which puts it at the corner of Lexington, a block east.

Miller, who has seen the floor plan, also notes that though the rooms are ample, they are not huge. Still, there are four bedrooms, formal dining room, library and a big living room.

But will the connection with Madoff stigmatize the property? Often, real estate associated with crime or criminals is devalued. But celebrity often brings higher prices. Is Madoff more like Manson or Madonna?

"I've found that buyers in New York in this price range are blasé about celebrity connections," he said. "Many buyers at these prices are celebrities themselves."

But in a similar recent case, the link may have hurt. When the condo of disgraced -- though less famous -- financier Marc Dreier sold at auction, it went for $8.2 million -- 21% less than it cost two years ago. Still, a few dozen people scrambled to buy the property even though a comparable 3,000-square-foot condo sold for 50% less in May.

The Long Island beach house

The 3,000-square-foot Montauk beach house could fare better. It's on an acre-and-a-half prime lot on a bluff above an ocean beach. And, it lies closer to the water's edge than could be built today thanks to earlier zoning regulations that were less stringent.

Based on tax assessments, some reports value the four-bedroom home at about $3.3 million. But the Feds estimated its worth to be at least $7 million, according to the Justice Department, and it may sell for more. One realtor, speaking on background, guessed it could go as high as $10 million.

Not a bad return: According to published reports, Bernie and wife Ruth paid only $250,000 for it back in 1980.

Palm Beach waterfront retreat

The Palm Beach house is a bit bigger with five bedrooms and seven baths contained within its 6,475 square feet. It's on a half-acre waterfront plot that borders the Intracoastal Waterway, the shipping route that runs the length of the East Coast. These protected waters are a boatman's paradise.

The house is very well shaded with dozens of large trees and a deep second-floor veranda. It lies down the shore from the Palm Beach Country Club, where Madoff snared more than a few of his victims.

The property has a private dock big enough to hold the Madoff boat -- the Bull, a 55-foot fishing vessel worth a reported $1.5 million. It too has been seized by the government.

Despite the amenities, the value has come down a lot, as have almost all south Florida property values. The Feds listed its worth at nearly $7.5 million in court papers.

Besides the U.S. homes, there's a vacation property on the Côte d'Azur. The three-bedroom home on chic Cap d'Antibes was seized back in March. It has since been sold, netting $1.48 million, according to the Justice Department. That money is now on deposit with the U.S. Marshall's office.

All told, the four homes, plus the boat and home furnishings of approximately $6 million in value, according to court filings, could fetch close to $30 million, all to be returned to his victims. To top of page

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