A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Celebrity Majolica: Madoff's Majolica

In the middle of watching a program on the November 2010 auction of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff's estate, what should flash before my eyes but a handful of majolica pieces among the loot! I had never heard that Madoff collected majolica so my curiosity was peaked. What did Madoff collect?

It didn't take long before I discovered the complete listing online of Madoff's majolica collection. The listing claimed a collection of 21 pieces. Here is the listing as it appeared online:

21 piece majolica pottery collection. [5] pineapple pitchers of various sizes, [1] corn motif syrup pitcher, [2] wedgwood pierced edge plates, [1] floral border plate, [5] assorted small cabbage motif plates, [1] davenport grape plate, [2] leaf form plates, [4] modern large cabbage plates.

It's not a very impressive collection for someone who swindled people out of 65 billion dollars over a period of 30+ years but an interesting collection nonetheless. The lot brought $375 at the auction.

The Madoff's bought what they liked and they apparently liked earth tones. I found it ironic that among the pieces was a collection of pineapple pitchers. The pineapple is a traditional symbol of hospitality. Who knows how many of Madoff's guests who gazed on these pieces ultimately became the victims of his hospitality?

I guess we'll never know.

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